Monday, 30 December 2013

If i had some bullets and a gun!!

We come to the end of another year, some of us will be glad to see the back of it, others had a great year and have no reason for fear or despair. We as a species saw more wars, more famine, more destruction by nature and by man, we saw governments overthrown, we saw public figures die and we partied in the street over the death of a woman who was loved and loathed in equal measure by probably equal amounts of people, all the time forgetting "there but for the grace of God go i" . This year i have been amazed by acts of kindness, acts of love, which have changed lives and opinions made people better and given hope where little existed.
Into this kettle of discord, i jumped onto an online Christian page which contains all the usual suspects and rants so much about what is wrong they rarely point out what is right, everything is a sin and if you do not believe like we do you are demonic (3 times in 2 weeks) i was told that (a new record) for me. So we now have Christians acting and performing like a viking horde on a pillaging raid and not caring about taking prisoners, they just need to be right. Basic biblical understanding goes out the window, because every word is true and it is all literal and don't you dare get me to think about my faith because thinking leads to demonisation. You see Christians take the bait far to easily and jump up and down without thinking how it actually looks, make wild claims lets look at a few from History. Alice Cooper branded demonic and satanic turns out Alice is an entertainer a singer and he knows shock tactics sell he is also a Christian and will happily talk about his faith. The movie The Last Temptation of Christ caused up roar due to a small segment towards the end of the movie, Christians got up in arms wanted to picket cinemas and branded the movie as blasphemous. Actually if we had shut up as Christians it would not have mattered, it was the Christians who publicised the movie and by the way the movie was a hard watch and was rubbish, not as good as the book it was based on. What i'm driving at is this, sometimes we need to take a back seat and wait for things to unravel a bit, don't jump to inconclusive conclusions, don't brand people for not being like us/me. As Christians we spend far to much time telling society it is wrong, that it is in a moral pit and forget we are part of that society we helped shape it by our attitudes, our desires and we helped create the moral pit. How? by not doing the right thing, by not speaking out against injustice (of all types) by not caring about those we don't like, by not doing what Jesus would do. You see the church or large sections of it have decided this years hang your coat on topic is Same sex marriage, it's going to run and run and for some people it matters for others it does not. Some of us will leave hot headed debates and snide comments to those who feel the need to browbeat and deride people, last week someone said "that the time for debate is over on SSM because teenagers are killing themselves. Instead of browbeating and condemning why not hug that Gay teenager/person and tell them you love them" that actually spoke masses to me. You see i have decided for the new year i'm not going to get involved in stupid debates that run round in circles, i'm going to set out to love those who i find it difficult to love, love those who are different, to try and make a difference in hurting lives. In short i'm aiming high but I'm going to try and "do what Jesus would do"

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Bigotry is wrong in most peoples eyes, it's an intolerance of different opinions that mostly has more to do with ignorance or one upmanship. Bigotry is used in politics it's used in society and heaven forbid it's used most widely in the church. In the last few weeks in Exeter we had a march by the EDL which i went along to it was an interesting exercise in reality against the media and i came away understanding a bit more about the EDL and why they are like they are. At the same time a group called Exeter together was marching to protest against the EDL, this march was a show of diversity and unity and by and large was good except for some of the speakers had petty and purile digs against the EDL. But back to the point of those who call themselves Christian being bigoted and being bigots, and this hurts to write but i'm going to anyway.

Christians talk a great deal about being tolerant and not bigoted, but we tend to be more bigoted than those we accuse of it. None of us would want to be branded a bigot and i expect most of you will disagree, but from what i have witnessed today within a certain Christian forum and what i have witnessed over the months in a few others intolerance is rife within Christian circles and ironically it's Christians slating Christians because of differing opinions. If you are not of the same ilk as me you are wrong, if you are evangelical and I'm a Liberal you are wrong, if you are traditional and i'm more progressive you are wrong. It's a shame on Christians, we are in the season of Advent, awaiting the coming of the prince of peace and yet we show bigotry to our brothers and sisters in the guise of robust debate, and that term winds me up "robust debate" is a cover all for i will hold a bigoted opinion and call it robust debate, because that way i can cover up my bigotry.

Intolerance is wrong whether its a right wing organisation or a left wing organisation, whether it's my intolerance to differing views or people groups. If i say i'm a member of UKIP it would cause uproar within certain quarters, i would be branded a bigot, but that lack of intolerance to my views is bigotry just the same.

IF WE ARE SHOWING BIGOTRY TO EACH OTHER IN THE KINGDOM, JUST HOW THE HECK ARE WE MEANT TO SHOW THE WORLD WE ARE NOT BIGOTS?. It makes a mockery of those words of Jesus " that by the love you have one for another they will know you are children of God" How are we going to show a lost and hurting world that we are capable of living in unity with our differing opinions and bring about a change to righteousness and God, because when we get involved in bigotry no matter what disguise we give it we are doing a massive disservice to each other and to the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013


Society by and large are fascinated with hell and the Devil, popular movies have a theme of evil and popular music especially rock, blues and metal and even some old school composers have a fascination with what it's going to be like or how to get there and much of what we class as classic literature is based on ideas of hell and damnation my all time favourite book (paradise lost) is a prime example. So why do we have a fascination with it? why do people write about it, or sing about it, more so than ever before Hell sells it's a marketers dream. Society seems comfortable with a concept of hell and seems happy to a degree that it exists because certain people deserve and need to be punished. A straw poll of friends was interesting to say the least, some believed in hell more so than heaven because " bad people need to be punished and don't deserve a break" revenge is an ironical thing and i guess it's human nature to want revenge we may call it justice but its good old fashioned tit for tat ethics. Then we come to the church who have struggled with the idea of hell and the punishment that awaits those who go there. The everlasting refrain is " how can a God of love do…………." simply put i'm not God, heck i don't even rule in my house thats the cats job. But we do have to look at it and see why if it exists and i'm a traditionalist in this case ( or am at present) why God would push people there and not allow them paradise. So in a very anthological way i'm going to explain it like this and it's not going to make some people happy and thats fine with me. If i tell my son to slow down while he is driving and he does not, and ends up with a ticket because thats what the system says needs to happen he is rightly going to be punished by the law. Now before you all start screaming grace grace grace, we can all take a text from the good book and make it fit our ends so lets try and avoid that. But if the death of Jesus on the cross was to sort my sin out ( yep i know ) not a popular view in some circles and the death of Jesus meant anything and i need to be redeemed, what am i redeemed from? for me it's an eternity away from God as opposed to eternity with God ( and yep i know many Christians now doubt heaven exists) but i had to be redeemed from something if the sacrifice of Christ means or meant anything. It makes me chuckle and belly laugh when i talk to good God loving Christians who cannot get their heads around the concept or reality of hell, but many of my non Christian friends have no real difficulty with it. Has it become that we get so wrapped up in grace that we forget there needs to be another side of the coin, there has to be balance it's a spiritual necessity in my eyes.

Hell sells from movies to music, my band play a number of songs that i have been told i should not sing as a God loving man (highway to hell and anything by the evil AC/DC) Alice Cooper, Megadeath and good old Led Zeppelin, most of these people worked out long ago that the devil shifts units, much like sex sells the devil sells, look and see AC/DC's break through album Highway to Hell, Iron Maidens breakthrough album the number of the beast, they have shifted millions and millions of units between them infact AC/DC have sold in excess of 160 million albums worldwide and at one stage last year were out selling the Beatles on a weekly basis they were the biggest band on the planet. This is not definitive and i have purposely tried to avoid theological speak because if we looked at all the concepts in every strand of the church we would still be here when Jesus returns, and thats another blog for another day

Peace people


Monday, 14 October 2013

Do i blame me or do i blame God???

At this point in my life i'm struggling with church and all that goes with it. You see when i was homeless and rootless i was capable of maintaining my relationship with God, now that i'm settled i struggle with it all. I'm more than happily married to a wonderful woman who really makes my life complete, and i struggle with the grace that has been shown to me. You see i'm fairly self deprecating and i realise that i'm the luckiest SOB on the planet. But what do i do with the fact i'm struggling with what i call my faith, you see i'm not distant from God because of him but i'm missing something from what i class as my Christian life. God never moved from me i guess in all honesty i have just got bored with Church, the whole process and structure has bored me rigid, is that because of me or my denomination? over the past few months i have so desperately wanted to leave Methodism in the dust, because to me the whole broad church thing does not work, but a few ministers who i trust have told me i'm needed, which is nice but it's not enough for me at this point in time. The churches i minister in are wonderful and appreciate my honesty in the pulpit, and tell me so. But i'm struggling like a boat without an anchor in a storm, i'm just not feeling it anymore. My prayers have not gone unanswered and they are being answered regularly with God proving himself time and again. People are being blessed because of my faith and that means something. But i'm just struggling to put it all together, my heart tells me that those people around me who have helped me ( Pam Richardson, The Noronahas, Bob Hyde, Tom Osbourne, Mark and Sharon Gilborson, Pete Pillinger and Anna Flavell) deserve me to make a fist of this and complete the work God has given me to do, but can i be bothered?. You see Church has never been important to me, when i was homeless i maintained my faith by witnessing to the glory of God even tho i was living on the streets. And that is where my problem probably lays you see i have always been fairly independent as a person and as a Christian that is not a good thing because like it or not i have to rely on God. But when i had no ties i was able to do what i felt God wanted without fear of the church people having a go at me about what i did because i just did not care what people thought ( yep i'm bad) now i have to be sensible and tow the line to a certain degree and that hacks me off big time. You see one of my problems with church and it's structure is that certain things are expected, but for me i have no real desire to follow the norm, i'm not that sort of person. I sing in a kicking Rock n Roll band (ask Tom Osbourne) and i do not fit what society thinks a Christian should be. You see i'm getting fed up with the claptrap that makes up church and stops people coming to faith, reality is what matters, not some structure that is actually going to push people away from God. Where i am at present is waiting for the right time to probably walk away, sit at the back of church on Sunday and let the good folk whom i love get on with it and just do my own thing as the people i deal with don't want to know about CPD or CHURCH councils, what they want is a reality in faith, something that connects with them and makes some form of sense not just a religious idea that alienates. My biker friends, my inked friends, my muso friends mean the world to me, they help me, they show me and need me. It may come to the fact i walk away from Church but  i will never walk away from God no matter how stupid it seems or how hard it becomes, church is part of it but i have always been a follower of JESUS first and foremost and a church goer second. This will probably upset some people and for that i guess i have to say sorry, but i have to follow my heart and that is a different matter. Years ago Bob Hyde sat with me when my life was falling apart, he listened and loved, in those moments he taught me so much about Jesus, not church, not structure, but about faith and that is where i am. 90% of my time is spent with non christians and i love it, and i have a good example in my best friend and saviour JESUS.

Monday, 7 October 2013

That metaphorical line.

We often hear the term they/ we/ such and such have crossed a line, even Obama used it with regards to the atrocities in Syria, but where is this line drawn? You see we all have a different idea on what is right or wrong, there are universal things we could probably all agree on but having said that i'm not certain it could happen. You see some people find swearing or nudity in art unneeded and will switch off or not attend a gallery because of it, personally i have few problems with bad language in art or in life, but those are the circles i move in and the people i interact with use those sorts of terms, obviously if it's tv you just switch off or change channel but you cannot do that in real life unless you stop interacting with those people. My line is the N word i don't like it and have used it only twice in my entire life and one of those was in context but it still made me feel dirty. We will have different ideas but what if those lines we draw take us away from a society we are meant to interact with, is it right to separate ourselves from a hurting society because they use terms or cross the lines they do? personally i think the answer is no, we stay and put our sensitivities to one side and try and interact and influence those around us. Years ago one of my closest friends had a real problem with the Simpsons and refused to watch it i have no idea if he watches it today at all, now if he does it is a change of heart and opinion he has had. That brings us to another difficulty, as society changes and what is acceptable changes do we change or stay the same.
One of the questions we need to ask is this, is our own line moveable or static? does it reflect us, society or God does that line enable or inhibit, does it make us better people or worse people? as the line is different for different people each of us will have a different view on it and how we apply it. It maybe as simple as switching channels or turning of the radio, it may mean we have to swallow our pride to achieve something greater than our own opinions and our own ego's. Society changes and will continue to change in some ways thats good in other ways it's bad because things we all hold dear may crumble and fall, what we need to do is stand up for what is right and that is a whole new ball game because just like the line our opinions of what is right will differ greatly.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Edison and that darn lightbulb!!!!

Thomas Edison is a man i admire, he was an inventor and seemed to be a genuinely nice chap. He had a tenacity that many of us lack in life and was determined to the uppermost to achieve his aims, the most famous being the lightbulb. When asked by a reporter if he felt like a failure he replied" no i now know 999 ways not to make a lightbulb, the figure is never set in stone, some biographers say it was 1000, 3000 10,000 times before he got it right, but the number is not as important as not giving up in the face of what appears to be failure, and keeping on going even when people are laughing at your "failure". Edison could teach us a great deal as could a lot of great inventors and scientists of our times.

Over the last few weeks a great deal of my time has been taken up with Prayer, doing it ( for others and for myself as my health is poor at present) speaking about it and hopefully helping people to understand it better. Now one of the things which has kept cropping up is "why God answers some prayers and not others" the simple answer is i have no idea, does it make God unfair and nasty, in some eyes yes. We Can all give examples of prayers not being answered how we expected or how we wanted. We have possibly prayed for healing for a friend and it has not happened and we wonder why, what is God playing at. That will obviously colour our ideas on how and why prayer does or does not work, but trust comes into it somewhere along the line and trust we must. Obviously prayer helps if you believe in an interventionalist God, some people do not believe God wants to get involved because of unanswered prayer and that colours what they feel and feelings are not faith, it's emotion and we have to try and separate the two. You can pray without believing in an interventionalist God, but if you believe God is not going to get involved there seems little point other than offering platitudes to an empty space.
Also a big part of prayer is relationship, our relationship with God through his son, what we know of God and how our relationship with God helps our prayer life. Relationship is key to a good and productive prayer life, our relationship with God and how we view him will affect how and if we pray. If your view of God is of the man with a big stick, who will belt you every time you step out of line then you are likely to encounter problems, if you view God as a loving caring father the chances are you will approach prayer differently, you will approach it as a conversation as a relational conversation where you lift your mind and heart towards God and engage with listening and understanding. Many times i have prayed for things and they have not been answered how i thought they should be, does it stop me praying? NO it does not in fact if i'm not seeing answers or getting movement i tend to pray longer and wait for movement to happen. Many times i have prayed and seen people healed, yes i know some will argue that the body repairs itself, the brain tricks etc etc. But when there is no other explanation than a miracle taking place you have to go with that. Sherlock Holmes said something along this line (and i know he is a fictional character) "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Thats how i approach prayer, i don't fully understand why it works or does not work but i know it does, and just like Edison keeping on trying to make the lightbulb and not giving up when things did not work out, i'm prepared to keep going with knowing God is interested even if i don't fully understand it, and he will keep proving himself to me and to you through what you pray.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

We are playing Marbles with Diamonds

In my time as a Christian one thing that has always bugged me is the ability some Christians have to concentrate on the irrelevant and miss the big issues. Now this will upset some of you and i know who you will be, it will also bring out all the old platitudes that get trotted out when this subject comes up, it's not meant to offend but i know some of you will be offended so i will apologise in advance for that.
A few weeks ago Pete Pillinger posted a link about" the questions the church is asking, but society is not" or something along that line and it got me to thinking, are we actually asking questions at all and more importantly are we actually relevant to the society we live in. As most of you are aware i'm blessed to have more non christian friends than christian friends and i really do thank God for that everyday. But something happened on Friday that got me thinking about how we as Christians are so dependant on having the title and for some the title is more important than the job description and doing the job. On Friday a friend called Matty introduced me to his daughters friend and called me the Vicar, she was shocked because her idea of a vicar was a collar, straight laced and a boring old fart and unfriendly (her words) where as i'm covered in ink, i smoke and i'm friendly(her words). During the conversation i had to try to explain to her that i was not a Vicar, not ordained, and not a dog collar wearer, but that i was a God botherer, when her eyes glazed over i realised something. When people come to us as Christians for help, they don't really care about what your title is, they want your help, they want someone who can give comfort and point to something different they want a friend i guess. So does it really matter in the real world if you are called a Vicar by non church people, they know i preach and as such that makes me a Vicar and to be honest trying to explain the ins and outs of ecclesiastical thought is not going to cut it as their eyes glaze over. Legally yes it matters for certain things but when the chips are down does it matter a flying fig what they call me, as long as i'm able to help them or point them to someone who can or better still point them to God.
This is the crux of the matter we spend a lot of time discussing trivialities, hymn books, structure and asking ourselves lots of questions that are really only relevant to us, they only matter to us and don't tend to matter to society at large. So do we carry on playing Marbles with Diamonds or do we/ can we become relevant to societies questions and stop the games? I'm sure we can i'm just not sure we have the desire to do so, and that will cut some of you. Thomas Eddison is a hero of mine, he was a scientist and an inventor, i'm an engineer and love the idea of Eddison working away but that is a blog for another day.

Friday, 30 August 2013

I don't ride a motorcycle, i'm a biker.......

There is an element of snobbery in the bike scene, those people of my ilk take the mick out of power rangers (sports bike riders in colour co ordinated leathers etc) who have no idea where to find a spark plug and always take the bike to the garage and pay extortionate prices for work to be done, i'm more of a hands on type of person. The point i'm getting at is there are certain things that make you a biker over being a bike rider and the differences are subtle and to the untrained eye non existent but they do exist. When you become a member of a bike club there are certain things you have to follow lets call them club rules, these rules are there to help everybody in the club and are enforced without favour you can fight them but they are not likely to chance just because you may not like them. Bikers are a rare breed they believe in honour, integrity, loyalty and they will always help out a fellow brother or member it's part of an unwritten code.

This brings me to Christians, there are certain things you really need to believe in my opinion if you are a Christian, you may not understand them, you may not fully agree with them but certain things in the Christian faith are what we would call needed, to claim you are a Christian if you don't believe them then there seems little point in claiming they belong to your faith path. One of the things i hear a lot of lately across all churches is that prayer does not really work, now if you believe that, thats fine and dandy but prayer is the life blood of the Christian and if we believe it does not work why bother praying? there is no point what so ever other than pandering to some need to feel good which has it's place but it's a waste of time if it's only being done because well we always do but, you know i don't believe it works. As Christians we have to believe there was and is something unique about Jesus, he was not just another fool with a Messiah complex but was the real deal, if not again why bother? Because lets be honest if we don't have something great to proclaim within the gospel we may as well not bother and let people believe any old stuff if it makes them happy. We all struggle at times with our faith, we all have doubts at times, our thought change over the years through experience and hardship, but what does not change is what God is capable of doing in our lives. If you don't want to believe in the bible, the God of the bible and his son thats fine, just don't try and mould him into your image of what God should be, according to your understanding or lack of it. If you don't see how prayer works that's fine, if you believe people are never healed today thats fine. Just don't try and deny it happens for those of us who have seen it, yes sometimes people are not healed, sometimes they are and in all honesty thats one thing i struggle with but it will not stop me praying for people to be healed, because i have seen them healed. The question is am i a Christian just because i attend church or am i a Christian because it's my life blood however that is worked out, am i a Christian because it's what i have always done but have no real desire to yield to God or his will because well " i don't see how God could... ya ya ya, because i don't get it" You and i are not God we are his followers and follow we will and if  ABC is the way then thats the way it is. You see you can be a motorcycle rider, only ride when the weather is fine, keep your bike polished and send it to the garage to change a spark plug,or you can be a biker and ride through all the storms, dirty bike that still runs well, ride all the time even when it's tough but ride you will because it's in your blood. It's the same with the Christian walk when the sun is shining it's fairly easy, but when the dirt hits the fan it gets tough, we wanna park up and make excuses as to why we are not doing, it's easier to park up in the garage and wait for the storm to pass, some of us are going to ride the storm and reach the end, we may be bruised we may have crashes that de rail us for a time, but we will get back on and hit the road again, which type are you?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Tho i speak with the Tongues of angels....

Tongues is a fairly divisive gift of the spirit, not because of the spirit but because we know better than the spirit or God. Pentecostals believe that speaking in Tongues is the initial evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit, and if you don't speak in tongues you are not baptised in the Spirit. Then there are those believers who give it pride of place of all the gifts, mainly because it is a show gift, it's public in the sense it is spoken out and as such people can see it at work. Without wanting to get too deep, tongues is a useful gift, it enables the person to communicate at a different level than normal words, but in no way demeans prayer in normal language given to God, it never was meant to make people feel inferior or superior, that unfortunately is a human trait and not a spirit one. Tongues do not make you a super christian, they enable you to speak in a heavenly language and communicate at a deep spiritual level with God.
The day of pentecost was a great day and the fact that the tongues given on that day were to let people hear the gospel of Christ in their own language ( i know many of my pentecostal friends will baulk at this) but from a reading of the book of acts thats what it was for, it was a mass pouring of Gods spirit to enable communication, and communication which was needed. The Apostle Paul in some respects put's it way down from other gifts, because even back then people who did it felt superior probably and the gift was being abused which is why he gave instruction on how to use them in church. As with any gift of the spirit it can be abused, which comes back down to human nature i guess. The greatest thing we can do in practical and spiritual terms is to love, love trumps it all and loving can be a spiritual act especially when we have to or need to love people who wind us up, or rub us the wrong way, love is preeminent it is the be all of everything we do, people need to be loved, need to feel worth and we as Christians need to follow the example of Jesus in all of this, which is to love the unlovely and love without recourse of payback. Tongues is useful to the Christian, it's useful to congregations, it's useful to the body of Christ. We as individuals need to keep our pride in check and not put the gift above the giver which tends to happen. Having spent 16 years of my life in one of the biggest Pentecostal denominations on the planet, i have witnessed the way tongues can be elevated above the giver, but that does not mean we throw the baby out with the bath water because it gets abused as a gift. If we did that a lot of things in church would need to be thrown out as well, because it's not just spiritual gifts that get abused in churches, many things do and we need to guard against that in all forms not just the spiritual ones. I speak in tongues daily, i'm pentecostal after all and it goes with the territory, being Methicostal as i now term myself has it's drawbacks but the pro's far out weigh the cons involved in the spiritual gifts i have. Balance in all these things is important, practical help goes a long way to helping people, at times it will feel silly and we wonder what God is playing at, God is God and at the end of the day can do what he want's with me as his follower, i'm capable of trusting him enough to know he will not let me down. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Every picture tells a story, don't it?

It used to be said that the camera never lies, and in the good old days it never did. Now thanks to technology i can put myself on top of Nelsons column and do it so well you would believe it, the glories of Photoshop. But there is a downside to this, as now especially if it's on line we believe it without question and post and repost with little or no research, we have all done it or will do at some point.

 Abraham Lincoln said " not everything i said about the internet is true" we have to be careful with what we post, what we say and how we say it mainly because within the written text, pitch, tone and what you want to say never fully comes across. But this is more about manipulation of ideas and individuals, manipulating the news for it to say what you want. Fox in America is very good at this and only this week the BBC have been accused of a bias when putting out the news, so what can we do about it? Firstly i think we need to use more than one news source for our stories, that would help us to begin with. Instead of looking at a news source that backs up our ideas, look further afield and see what others are saying about it.
Egypt is in turmoil at present, people being killed for their faith, people being inprisoned for speaking out against tyranny, and the realisation for certain governments around the world that again we screwed up with our nose poking in Egypt. What you don't see on the news is how Christians and Muslims are working together in Egypt to help and protect each other, but it's not deemed news worthy because we have become so used to BAD NEWS that GOOD NEWS is irrelevant to the masses.
Jesus for it is he who was proclaimed Prince of Peace, showed how to live together, gave instruction on it and showed the way. Can we blame God for humanities lack of willingness to try and live as human beings, to show mercy, to show love for our fellow human beings. Sticking my neck out i would say no we can't blame God, we have to accept that in some cases we are to ready to live in the mire and denial, than we are to live in grace and mercy as a whole. Certain individuals show great love and mercy, but mob rule rules by and large and we need to change that in some way. It needs to start with me, it needs to start with you, we need to be the change we want to see, it's time to stop pointing the finger at others and look in the mirror and see where we fit into this. As a poor example of a Christian i need to do better, need to see things differently, we all do in reality. The media tells you what it wants you to hear, it tells you what is news and what is not. There is a meme doing the round this week which speaks volumes on this. The cast of SHERLOCK are filming the new series and the Paparazi were out in force taking celebrity snaps. Then one of the actors wrote on a piece of paper " go photograph Egypt and show the world something important" we will all have an idea of what is important in our own lives, but sometimes we need to take of the rose coloured glasses and look at things differently. PLEASE PLEASE keep Egypt in your thoughts.

Peace peeps and see afresh

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Racism the myth that divides us.

Now before you comment it would be an idea to read what i'm saying, RACISM is a social construct and does not really exist, what exists is fear of the unknown, fear of the non national, fear of something different, because at the end of the day we are all the same but some of us have different skin colours or cultural ideas and this can cause fear, we are all one race, what we actually have is a fear of the unknown and an unwillingness to listen to or engage with a different ideal and that applies to the left, the right, the Liberal and the centre ground. Because of the company i keep i often get branded a racist and a bigot, this tends to be by people who do not know me that well and have no real idea of my background in anyway meaningful.
But back to racism, it's a social construct to divide and cause fear, it's very real to those who suffer from it, and while i was in Serbia i was racially abused by a minority of people, but it still happened. As a species we can be stupid, infantile, petty and horrid, while at the same time we are capable of great feats of kindness and grace, feats that enable and foster growth that enable joy. You see, i see bigotry everyday, and thats what i tend to call it bigotry, i find it hard when well meaning people claim Muslims are a race and anything you say against them is racist, Being a Muslim is a faith path not a nationality. If thats the case every time a Christian gets picked on by someone it's racism if you want to call it that, if it's racism to slate a Muslim it's racism to slate a Christian or any other faith for that matter, so lets call it what it is which is bigotry, it's easier. Personally i have friends from many ethnic backgrounds and skin colour has never been an issue to me, neither has nationality, if i like you, i like you. We are in this thing called life together, we are all going to die at some point and thats a fact, we are all going to have ups and downs, we will have times of great trial and times of great joy, i'm happy to stand with any member of the human race and i will help anyone no matter of creed or political stance. For some people Racism will always be a term they use, it's not one that crosses my mind with any regularity, but it's out there i'm trying to get people to think slightly differently, if we can start to see ourselves as one race we could possibly stamp out bigotry, it's gonna be a hard slog but from little acorns big things can happen. For me racism is a social construct which is taught through fear, through stubbornness, through a lack of understanding and it's something i just don't need. It was Dennis Leary i believe who said " you don't grow up to be a racist, it's something you are taught" and that about sums it up.

Peace people

Thursday, 8 August 2013

An inconvenient truth!!

It's a fact of life people have differing views from me, these range from what i think is cool, music, bikes, beer, ink and God. The biggest disagreements i ever have though come in the form of politics, i have friends from all political parties (mainstream and fringe) they range from right on lefties to full on far right wannabes. Some of their opinions make sense others do not and i get left thinking in most cases everything is alright as long as you agree with what ever point is being put forward, It's a crying shame that we talk about freedom of speech with such a passion when what we actually mean is "you can say what you want as long as i'm not offended or my nose is not put out of joint" thats not freedom it's another thing entirely. Many of my friends are far right in their political opinions, they want immigration stopped, they want people sent back home, they want English people put first and foremost in our country, would i brand them racist in anyway? in truth some of them are, others are just wanting England to be great again and they see from a very blinkered view of what will make it great again but they are not racist for wanting those things, they are just marching to a different beat.
The freedom i expect to be given, to hold views which are unpopular some would say hurtful are my right to have, and i hold views that make me unpopular with certain people, views which in all honesty are limiting and exclusive. So if i expect to be given the freedom to express views which some may find offensive, it follows logically in my mind that i have to give that right to others, who hold counter views to mine. Giving someone the freedom of expression does not mean i agree with them, it means i respect them and yes for some the idea that i can respect a card carrying BNP member and allow him to express his opinion is tantamount to saying i have set up an altar to Satan in my living room, democracy is a great thing, but to be truly democratic everybody has to have a voice, not just those we agree with. So when the fool in the pub sprouts misinformed nonsense, i listen to what he has to say because i'm going to expect him to listen to me when i put a different thought pattern forward. Many of my Christian friends believe Jesus was a Republican/Conservative if thats the way they vote. My left leaning friends believe Jesus was a socialist if thats how they vote, fact is Jesus was above all political ideologies, he called for all people to be treated equal the least had a voice even if that voice was not affirming in anyway they had a voice. So the tax collector has a voice, the prostitute has a voice, the money lender has a voice and the racist has a voice. We do not have to agree with those voices but we do need to respect people with different ideologies, trying to shut them down or shut them up moves us closer to a selection process which end in totalitarianism, it ends when the last dissenting voice has been silenced, while that voice today can be a racist rant, tomorrow it could be you being silenced for speaking out against injustice, for speaking out against anything that someone else has a different viewpoint on. As much as many of my friends and people i'm aquatinted with have different views to me i respect their right to hold them, as much as they respect my right to disagree with them

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Can i get a witness, i said CAN I GET A WITNESS?

Often times i get criticised for my witness. I smoke to much (true) i spend to much time in the pub (true)  i swear to much (working on it) and i spend far to much time with sinners and putting myself in dangerous positions(partly true) the main bulk of the flack comes from well meaning Christians, who rightly in their minds think they have a right to mould me into their image of what a Christian should be. They tell me where my theology is wrong, they tell me i have too much ink, they tell me i'm judgemental (the irony being when they tell me i'm being judgemental, they are judging me) they deal with my perceived intolerance by being intolerant towards me.
These people come from all parts of Christendom, i'm convinced if i published some of the emails i receive from ministers of the gospel of grace, they would probably be ashamed it was made public, but then again maybe not. You see it appears it's ok to publicly put someone down, to belittle them, hurt them, name call and generally bully people into submission, as long as it's called robust debate it's ok to do it, but funnily enough it's not. It's a real shit when you bully people whether it's robust debate or not, you see a bully is a coward, a cast iron coward, it's not actually just about physical violence (that i'm more than happy to deal with) it's about bullying people by words, they cut to the core of a persons being. I'm beginning to actually enjoy more my time spent with my non believing friends than i do in the presence of Christians and that is just stupid. I'm looking forward to the emails and comments i will get on this, maybe that makes me weird (my wife does think i'm wired up wrong) but you know what i don't care, i'm more comfortable in my skin today than i have been for years, i'm comfortable in my relationship with my wife, my friends and family and most importantly i'm more than comfortable in my relationship with God and that gets a HELL YEAH from me!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Of course i want forgiveness.... i just don't want to give it to anybody who has hurt me!!!

Forgiveness is a real pain in the butt, we all want it shown to us when we have wronged someone or hurt someone, broken a law etc. But we don't tend to want to give it, we like to receive we just don't want to give it. But what if we did give it unconditionally, without thought of the wrongs done, the hurt caused and the heart ache and break that went with the problem? What if.......?
Could it really help us as individuals to forgive to just let it go and move forward instead of holding onto the past hurts we have and the anger that still goes with them, anger that we tend to point at the people who hurt us and God who allowed it to happen. We need to learn that forgiveness is a release from the prison of our hurts and anger, it releases us from that heartache, that connection to the past which drags us back and stops us being free.
All of us have hurts that have needed to be, or need to be dealt with, part of that process is a desire to forgive the wrongdoer a desire to release them from their guilt and to release us from our hurt. It's not an easy process because we hold onto things like anger and the past more than we need to in all honesty. But i genuinely believe that if we could let these things go no matter how hard it is we can be released into a great wave of love, we can't hold a grudge, we can't hold onto hurt and anger. If we do we build an emotional prison with walls so thick nothing gets through and the only ones it really hurts is ourselves. It maybe time to start removing those bricks in that prison and start letting in some light and some love, then when that light and love is reflected back it brings freedom which cannot be expressed adequately with words.

Peace people

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The God who failed

Metallica are one of my favourite bands, i just love the power they provide in their music. Now one of their songs is called "The God who failed" and is about faith and how it's abused and some of the stupidity that goes with faith. Anyway while listening to this the other day it got me to thinking and the thought pattern was interesting. You see i know a lot of Christians who spend so much time saying God can't won't don't do, that they are full of negativity. Everything has to have a logical answer and everything needs to have the i's dotted and the t's crossed before they listen. They also always think of God in human terms, by this i mean they say well "i could not, i will not, i don't agree" now all these things are good in moderation. Yes we should question things, we should apply our God given brains to the situation but when we start to relegate the king of kings down to a party trickster we fail miserably, God does not fail we fail. You see when we try to put God into our understanding it does not work, we cannot stiffle God we can try but we cannot stiffle him in anyway whatsoever. You see God is above and beyond human understanding not because we are stupid but because God is God and before all things, and we try and stop him doing what he want's because we do not get it.

Those Christians who spend all their time on the side of the fence of God can't, tend to be negative, they tend to always want to pick an argument, they rarely admit to a change of view because in a lot of cases because God did not do for them they are hurt and bitter and drag it around with them.It's about time we started spending our time discussing GOD CAN, not GOD CAN'T, you see when we start doing God can we see changes, yes sometimes it will not work and we may look foolish. But if we actually got out of the boat and tried to walk on water we would be surprised at how great it can be. Once we get into God can our perspective changes, we become doers as well as speakers, we see lives touched for the better, we see people healed and our faith is strengthened. From now on in i'm going to try and spend more time on God can, than God can't because the negativity that goes with it drags me down. I'm going to listen to some Metallica now as i want to play my custom built Air guitar.

Peace peeps

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Worship and toast

Last night while unwinding after a very good and exciting gig i was having some Tomato soup and toast, which got me to thinking about a conversation i had with a mate about folded toast and unfolded toast. His point was he folds his toast, because it's thicker that way and he feels he has more as it's thicker. I keep my toast unfolded even when dipping with it, and this triggered the final thought process for a service i lead on Sunday 7th July on the subject of worship and how different forms still do what it says on the tin. All to often if something is different or out of our comfort zone we dismiss it. If it's new we dismiss it, if it is not within our theological spectrum we dismiss it out of hand, and can get quite nasty about how someone else worships God. There are certain biblical parameters for worship, one often quoted is Jesus saying" the day will come when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in truth". This statement is 2 fold it's partly prophetic about how it will be when we are before the throne of God, no bitchiness, no backbiting, no i'm right your wrong because you like guitars, i like an organ. It also has an element of the now in it, it's how we need to worship. Now this is where it gets a bit cloudy. My truth and worship works for me the way i honour God in that worship is truthful to me, and truthful to God, my spirit soars when i worship God, it takes flight and i know i'm happy with what has happened, whether that is corporately or in my private times. Another aspect of worship is it requires a sacrifice from me, that sacrifice can be in many ways but it requires me to do something which i'm not very good at and that is to humble myself before my God and King. You see as people we are not by and large humble, we are right and that is that. Differing views are not welcome, don't make me think outside of my box of comfort and you sure as heck will not make me think that i could possibly be wrong or need to be humble, how dare you do that.
You see Our worship is a requirement of the Christian walk, it's not an option, i'm going to use another word now which will offend many, but our worship is a commandment from God, it's not a case of if i want to, it's a case of i have to do so. As long as i'm true to God and myself how i choose to worship is entirely up to me, i'm learning not to inflict my style of worship on people, and i don't want other styles inflicted upon me. Yes i will try new forms of worship, if i don't like how you do it, it does not make me wrong it means we differ in our walk. It give neither of us the right to backbite and tell each other we are wrong. We can be different as long as our focus is on God i don't have a problem with your liturgy, just have the grace not to have a problem with the way i do my worship. If we can respect each other we can actually do far better than continually moaning about ABC. I'm gonna try and fold my toast tomorrow, try something different with it, i may like it i may not but i'm willing to give it a go. Because after all it's toast which ever way i fold it or unfold it.

Peace people

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Poo thats stinks!!!

Before he died one of my best friends was an awesome gardener, he could grow anything in a desert with no water, he was brilliant. He was slightly unorthodox but he got results, his Tomatoes were epic as were his cauliflowers. He was a traditionalist who knew what to do and how to do it, to get the best results. One of his methods was to leave horse manure soaking for a few days in a bucket of water so that it broke down and became fluid, more like slurry. His thinking and it was proven was that the liquid got to the roots quicker and fed the plants better. We discussed new ways of doing things, bought a couple of grow bags, got some new style fertiliser and gave it a go, he was not impressed with the results, but i was. Never been keen on gardening and the one thing i did grow well was illegal so that had to stop. But Bill knew what to do, what needed to be done, watched the seasons, tilled the ground, and generally enjoyed his little patch of earth. We disagreed on a vast range of subjects from the trivial, football and snooker to more serious topics like immigration, taxation and God. We had a mutual respect for each others abilities, but i never enjoyed slopping that slurry around the plants, it stank, it got stuck back your throat and if it got on your clothes you smelled like a cow pat, it was not nice.

Which brings me onto how we interact as Christians one with another and with those outside of Gods kingdom. We talk up a good show about loving the unchurched but tend to have issues with those in the Kingdom who think differently that us, those people we worship with regularly whom we should love as unconditionally as we have been loved by God himself. So why do we tend to kill the saints and give them all types of grief if they disagree with us. I'm not convinced that my theology is 100% correct and i know i screw up a fair bit and need grace shown to me and to show it to others, that is a requirement no matter how i dress it up in fancy language i/we have to do as Christians. Which brings me to the latest set of figures that say Methodism could be extinct by 2030, is it a warning shot across the bows we are going to take seriously, or are we going to bury our heads in the sand and ignore it hoping it will go away, and go away is something that could happen in a very real sense of the word. If the figures are correct it's going to require us to put aside our differences and work for the good of the Kingdom of God firstly and Methodism secondly. Now please here my heart on this next bit, If all Methodist started working for the kingdom and stopped turning Methodism itself into a god we would see a growth explosion. People are not interested in structures and forms of this that or the other, they are interested in a real living breathing faith, you can see that in the alternative spiritualities that are taking place, people want to connect with something that is life changing, that gives them something they can grab a hold of. Whether we like it or not Methodism faces a hard slog, we can deny it, bury our heads, set up committees to tell us why we are failing, pat ourselves on the backs and say we have the structure right and still miss the reason we started. It's going to be hard for individuals, it's going to take work. Some of it will be mucky and smelly and we may not like it, but maybe we need to start pouring slurry onto our roots to help us to grow. 

Thursday, 20 June 2013

God is still very busy

It's been a while since i last updated the old blog thingy and to be truthful i'm still wading through lots of stuff in my head which i need to calm down about or write about in a gracious manner, which for some of it at present would be impossible for me to do. Sometimes i love my ability to listen to God other times i feel so far removed from him and his voice i may as well call myself an atheist. Any way lets give a brief update of whats been going on.

Seen some people give their lives to Christ and come to faith in him which has been fantastic and restored my soul no end.

People who would never normally ask for prayer have approached me for prayer as they "Can't do it themselves" This has been a very humbling experience for me

Old broken friendships have started to be restored and given chance to flourish once again

Services led in different churches and different denominations, which has been a real blessing
 life has gone on. When i now look back at whats happened in regards to my opening statement, i realise i have not been far from God, God has been so close i have just not seen the wood for the trees, he has been cradling my life in his hands, lifting carrying, giving that nod just when it's needed, helping, guiding and educating as i have walked along. For that i'm genuinely humbled and grateful

Peace peeps.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


It's been an interesting few weeks on a personal level. The funeral of an old school friend who died very quickly from Cancer, shook me harder than i cared to admit and bought home my mortality to myself in a very real way. Did a wedding blessing that caused me a whole heap of trouble from certain quarters, some i expected others i didn't but i would do the same in a Pastoral sense again (so that means bye bye for some of you) The house move seems to have hit a brick wall (pun intended) so we a started running with our back up plan, only to have another viewing take place this week AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGHHHHH will do for now.

But through all of this i have learnt something important. My time frame and Gods time frame are different, i can only see the end of my nose with a mirror or by going cross eyed ( not a good look) God sees the whole picture from my side, while walking with me. So why do i do this when i know God is in control? in my life i have heard God at times as audibly as i here Judas Priest playing in the background now. What's different today? It's my wife's fault, it's all her and nothing to do with me. You see when i was single hearing the voice of God only affected me, it only mattered to me or the situation i was in. Now i have to take account of the woman i love, but more importantly her spiritual walk as well, i'm no longer just me, we are one flesh, one mind and one body and walk together in God. This for me is a massive learning curve, having to listen to the other side of my life, listening to the person who probably knows me best, and it's not the same as discussing it down the pub with your mates over a beer.

My walk with God is my responsibility, i'm responsible for how i act, what i do, who i offend, who i make happy. But the other side of that coin is i'm not an island i'm married and need to think about how my wife feels about something, do i miss the old days? you better believe it. Would i go back to them? NOT A CHANCE IN HELL.

It's important to have that spiritual connection with your significant other, Paul says " do not be unequally yoked" there is a good reason why that is. If God tells you to sell up and move to where ever, you both need to agree on it, you can't fly solo with a significant other in tow. There are 3 significant people involved in our marriage God, my wife, and me. Thats the way it needs to be,
like i said the last few weeks has taught me a great deal, i have seen things differently, i have lost friends because they do not agree with me, and that actually hurts. It's easy to say "well they were not real friends" and that is a cop out. My relationships with these people actually took time and effort to build they should be more important than a disagreement over nothing, but hey ho thats the way it goes.

Bless ya people may God show you something new each and everyday, and if he is not ask him where you need to be looking for that something new.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The world of illegal dogfighting!!

There is a very frightening trend going on in Christianity at present, and it probably poses a bigger threat than anything the devil could throw at us. I'm not a naive person, been around the bloke far too many times to be that way, and i know these things have always gone on, they have always happened. So is today, now any different? Yes it is, because we no longer live in a big world, due to technology we live in and on a very small planet, and that causes us problems. Because despite the good an online community or forum can do, it can and does cause a lot of damage. This week i left a forum i belonged to because to be honest on a personal level i see little of Christ in it, and a lot of humanity and not in a good way. The week stated badly when i received an email from a minister who said that because i used the wrong word in an argument the perception was " you could be seen as ill-educated" i never replied to it because in all honesty there was little point in doing so, i maybe ill-educated (tho i'm not) i speak from the heart and hope it hits home which is what we all do at some point, i just tend to live my life that way.

So what is this big threat? DIVISION it's happening more and more and getting worse. It's either one or the other in the USA you are either a conservative Christian or a Liberal Christian, in the UK it's traditional evangelical or a Liberal and never the twain shall meet. This is not just about politics, it's also about how you believe in the Bible and the God of the Bible. So we have people from the evangelical wing being less than Godly and not seeing that they are, we have Liberals being less than Godly and denying they are. Justification of the rants take many forms, " Oh it's just a robust debate, we have learnt so much since the Bible was written, in the 21st century there is no place for the supernatural it's not scientific enough" all these things could be seen as true depending on where you are coming from.

This then flows into a massive argument and a point scoring exercise and eventually turns to bullying. Of course none of those involved would class themselves as bullies, but there actions are little, if no different than the kid who steals the lunch money of a younger kid in the playground. This gets played out on the world wide web where people can look in, people who are not Christians look in and see believers in Christ acting like jerks, and being less than Godly and we all think we are right. This brings us onto the other problem that comes with division "the need to be right and have the last word" we have to be seen to get the last word in, heaven forbid that someone could make a valid argument and we may have to shut up and concede. We are meant to be a body of believers, followers of the one true God, if our bodies reacted like some of us do today we would be in hospital on life support because our vital organs would not be functioning. There comes a time when we have to stop the petty mindedness, stop the one upmanship and look differently and just SHUT UP before we do more damage.

On that note i'm going to shut up.



Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Jesus was a spaceman

The other day i listened while a member of my family explained his reasoning behind Jesus being a spaceman, the whole DNA splicing with alien genes, the alleged proof that this happened and what it meant to him. Then he asked me an interesting question " if Jesus was a spaceman would you still believe in him" I took sometime to think before i answered him. The simple answer was not simple at all, on one level it's the person and teachings of Jesus i follow or try too. On another level i had to say no because it would take away his deity and his Godhood (try explaining that in 5 minutes with a cup of tea and a cigarette) he got what i was saying and tended to agree with the Bible part of what i said (his words) but was still convinced Jesus was a spaceman, so would it matter? Like i said on one level no it would not, we follow the teachings of Jesus if he came, and was a spaceman his teachings still ring true, and his work on earth is no less valid, at least he came and helped out.

On another level we have to deal with the whole virgin birth, his life, the things he said and his resurrection. The whole person of Jesus is uniquely tied to his Godhood and his status as the Son of God, if you take this away you are left with a man who made claims he could not back up and thus he becomes a liar, and the Apostle paul says "that if it was a lie we are to be pitied above all men" but this thought pattern also got me to thinking why people believe what they do. Over the years many of my friends have called me a nutter or worse for believing in God and what the Bible says about him, while all the time holding to some very strange beliefs themselves (aliens, Atlantis, crop circles which i know how they are made)) and not seeing the irony in what they have said to me. So why is it easier to believe in Aliens or something else other than God? Part of the problem lays in the fact that God requires something from you. He requires that you follow him, that you turn away from sin, that you start to do good instead of bad, that you and i need to be different than what is around us. We follow a narrow path, a path that starts as a pilgrimage and makes us disciples by the time we have finished the walk and we have shuffled off this mortal coil, God wants something from us. That is where i believe the rub for a lot of people lays, they want the goodness of God, the blessings and all that nice stuff, but are by and large not prepared to lay it all on the line for God not prepared to sacrifice, not prepared to just give in and let God be God. There is that glorious verse in the Bible that says" the truth will set you free" it's true it does, but to have that freedom we also need to submit to God, it's a dichotomy in all truth. To gain absolute freedom we have to submit to God and his rule, how can you have freedom if you are abiding by rules? it's not about the freedom to break laws or be a pain in the neck. It's the freedom to know that no matter what God is with you, offering guidance, offering hope, offering forgiveness offering himself.
There are demands in the Christian life, there are things we need to do as Christians and followers of Christ, those things may require sacrifice, may require that we lay ourselves down and just let God do his thing. That is why some people cannot or will not accept God, they cannot get over the barrier of "this is me and i'm number 1" the truth is when we come to the foot of the cross and ask and seek forgiveness we are actually saying i messed up, i can't do it on my own, which means we are not number 1 anymore.
So if Jesus was a spaceman, i don't mind his teachings still stand the test of time, but if him being a spaceman takes away his divinity i'm going to say not a hope in henry can he be, and keep walking this path i started on many years ago.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Context the VIP at the table of life.

Context in anything is vitally important and this was bought home to me earlier. Bumping into a friend of mine and being me i hugged her and kissed her (it's how i greet certain people) someone i know saw this and waited for me to finish and asked "what's going on" ? It's not something i get asked regularly because those who know me well enough, know me well enough. Looking at it now and if you were looking in from the outside you could be asking the same question, but jumping to conclusions is not the same as having the full information in front of you. This brings me to something i have been pondering for a while, it may upset some of my more fundamentalist friends, literalist friends, and even liberal friends.

There are many things in the Bible i struggle with and in all honesty it's harder to be a Christian than not, mainly because we all get tarred with the same brush, we are all idiots or fools and we have no brains (but i'm guessing 3 degrees for me) means some where i have a brain, but at times i choose to not use it fully. Now this bit i cannot believe i am writing but bear with me, the Bible was written ages ago, Jesus did not use a bible, none of the Apostles used a bible, so when they talk of scripture it's not what we have today. Our Bible comes with a bias towards our tradition, in certain parts of the world you get bibles for a specific people group, that backs up their ideology and enforces some bad views, based on tradition and having no context what so ever to when, why, what and to whom the things where said. This is more evident in the Old Testament, people use parts of Levitical law today to back up certain prejudices, but you will find they only take the parts that backs up the viewpoint they hold, and leave the rest. Many Christians quote levitical law about Homosexuality, but are happy to eat shell fish and wear mixed fibre clothing, so any integrity we think we have gets thrown out the window. You cannot treat the Bible as a pick n mix free for all, it needs to be taken seriously. When we celebrated 400 years of the King James Bible i was privileged to write a vast amount of commentaries on the Scriptures for our district website (they are still available) from all those who took part in the process of writing them.

Context is important with scripture as with all things in life, because if we take things out of context we make mistakes, NOTE WE make Mistakes not the Bible. My point is this too many Christians and none Christians for that matter read what they want in the Bible to make it say what they want. They make Jesus in their image instead of being transformed into his image, Jesus becomes like them and they become less like Jesus. Proper bible study is so important, it helps us to see things as they where and are not as we want them to be. The truth is the truth because it is, however unpalatable that is it's still the truth. This is not about the Bible being wrong, but about taking it seriously. Some parts of it are literal, some parts are stories, some parts are parables, some parts are poetry some parts are wisdom which we apply today, some parts are Gods truth to his people. If we want to be taken seriously by people searching for truth we need to be taking the Bible seriously, we need to apply it or leave it. Don't go around picking the parts that enforce your own opinions,and leave the parts you don't like,  be open to God speaking to you through it's pages. Be open to the idea that you could be wrong, be led by Gods Spirit, and see the difference it can make in our lives and the lives of those seeking.

P.S for those of you who prayed for Jacob he is back from Romania and well happy with what they did.

God bless ya


Friday, 5 April 2013

Why do you Blog?

Today i was asked "why do you blog"? the details of the conversation are not particularly relevant or for that matter wholesome, so we will leave that part of the conversation. It's something i have never been asked before and got me to thinking, and now as i have had a bit of time to think i guess it's time to reply. I'm going to post the text of my reply, but not the mail that came with it, because it is not great, and apparently i'm a disgrace to God, the Kingdom, my parents and the whole of Christendom. This all from a blog i wrote earlier this month.

Thank you for your question as to why i bother blogging, i'm going to attempt to answer it in order but that may not happen.

1. There probably is a bit of ego in everyones blog, the idea that something you want to say can help someone could be construed as egotistical, so you maybe right, i don't think you are but who knows.

2. As for being an all round embarrassment i guess you would have to speak to those people you mention, that i have embarrassed and see how they feel about it. You do appear to have a direct bat phone to God so ask him while you are at it, and let me know what he says on the matter. Because causing embarrasment to God is far away from why i do anything.

3. I'm always brutally honest in anything i do, whether that is preaching, or blogging and i will outline the reasons to you.
a) my hope is that by showing my failings, showing my humanity i can help break the myth that a rose garden exists if you are a Christian, i know your particular way of thought is that i am wrong, but i can actually back mine up with numerous scriptural passages, experience and tradition.

b) 90% of the people who read my blog are not looking for pat answers, they are looking for something from God that enables them and empowers them to do better in their lives. To see the face of God and get to know him better and intimately, and to know that God loves them despite the doubts and fears they possess.

c) Most of my readers are not Christian in any way that you would define it. But they appear to get help from what is written, and yes someone has given their life to Christ, not because of my blog (it was only a small part of the journey they are on) but because they actually met someone who said it was okay to doubt and struggle with questions of faith. You see the Bible never tells us that we have to understand everything before we make the jump into the arms of God, it actually affirms "come as you are" i'm more convinced of that than anything else in my life right now.

You see since i gave my life to Christ in the early 80's the only thing i have ever wanted to see happen is people come to faith in Christ, i'm not concerned with where they go to worship, how they worship or who they read to help them on their journey ( before you jump, i'm talking about Christian worship) what matters most is that someone is making that journey, someone is willing to trust and put their faith in God and his son Jesus. Never having understood the reasons denominations try and build walls instead of breaking them down, i'm more than happy to try and blow them away with an anti tank gun or DC10. People do not need to get to the right church to find faith, they need to find God, they need to dedicate their lives to him and see the greatness of himself working in their lives.

The reason i blog is i hope that those people who never go to church, never attend any form of Christian service, get to see something of what God has done in my life and is doing in my life. It's a lot easier to say what i say on the internet on my blog page, not because i think i'm better than anyone else, not because  think my words are more important, but because if i had to see each person individually i would never get any sleep, never get any rest and never see my wife.

Genuinely i thank you for the time you took with your Mail, and i have tried to respond to it honestly, i hope you read mine in a similar way. God bless you on your journey and shine his light upon you.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

One of those questions

One of the main things i'm asked is "why do you believe in Jesus?" it can never be given in a nutshell, i have tried but it does not work for me. Fortunately the people who tend to ask me this have no theological background, they don't want super spiritual or normal spiritual answers, they just want something that makes sense to them. So today when i was asked the same question i answered in simple terms " it just works for me" Not deeply spiritual, not theologically great, just a simple statement of what happens in my life, and what happened in my life to make me change my ways. I'm still amazed that the deal i made with God all those years ago has stood the test of time, a throw away comment from me, a goalkeepers save from God and here we are 30 something years down the line, with God still proving himself to me, and hopefully me showing God i'm still in it. It's not all been easy mistakes have been made, people hurt, people injured both physically and emotionally, for 11 years i decided the grass was greener on the other side, then found out it was not, had a raging drug problem that nearly killed me (and i still suffer the effects of that addiction today) put my body through hell and survived to tell the tale.

So why do i believe in Jesus? Simple really, God took a chance on me, he showed me he loved me, he cared for me, and despite my best efforts to screw it up, he never gave up on  me, he came through, broke into the darkness and got involved in sorting out what i called life. He got involved in it all, got down in the mire, lifted me up, dusted me down and said " hey son lets go for a walk, i'm not promising you a rose garden, i'm not saying it's gonna be plain sailing. But it will be the ride of your life and i'm gonna be with you every step of the way". You see i don't really like trying to analyse everything down to the last comma, i have no interest in it. Mainly because (and i can't stress this enough) the average person in the street does not want to know about the council of this, the writer of that, the reason the bible was canonised as it was, these things can be sorted out when someone comes to faith in Christ. They want to know that in the hard times God is not going to walk away from them, but will stand with them, will help them. He uses the church to do that in some cases, in others he comes alongside those hurting people and carries them through the burden, lifts it, and helps out.

I think it was Wesley who said something like this and i'm going to have to paraphrase it" discussion about doctrine, no matter how earnest, is not the same thing as getting involved". Many people i know do not believe God gets involved in the everyday, thats fine and dandy, me i believe God wants to be involved in every aspect of my life, not to control it or control me from a distance or from standing beside me. But he wants to be involved just because he can be, he allows me to make my mistakes, he allows my successes, i genuinely believe he revels in our relationship.

Why do i believe in Jesus? simply because it works for me, despite me, it's no simpler than that.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Casting shadows

We are now fully ensconced in Easter time, and tomorrow in our city as with many towns and cities up and down the country Christians will march through their respective towns, forgetting their petty differences and focusing on the cross, and what happened on it.

Historically according to the Gospels three people were crucified on that day, 2 thieves and Christ himself, 3 crosses casting 3 shadows upon the ground and 3 broken bodies, with their joints a war while religious vipers cast hatred and ridicule at what was going on. Sometimes we get ridiculed for our faith, some of the time we deserve it, because of our actions, we can be proud, stiff necked, hurtful and all those things we love to point out in others we suffer from ourselves. When you look at the cross what do you see? Is it an instrument of death because it is, or do you see an instrument of life because it is that as well. The cross is a mystery, it can be many things to many people, ask yourself what does it mean to me? As a Christian i believe that cross bought about a change, that affected my life in a very real way.

But the death of Christ was not the end of it, you see to cast shadows you need light, darkness cannot cast a shadow as it's dark and a shadow is a trick of the light when light hits the object. We do not have to stand looking at the shadow of the cross and standing in the darkness it casts. But we can  look to the light which is casting that shadow, the light of a new day, the light of the resurrection, the light of the world, breaking into the darkness, setting the captives free, bringing new hope, new life for all who will accept it.

Have a blast celebrating the easter story this year, celebrate the new life given for us, the new day a fresh start for each and every one of us.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

It's like being in a Rock n Roll band

I'm often asked, how i know God is speaking to me about something. When i pray for people, guidance or for a problem, before i speak i need to know it's God and not just my own opinion jumping forward. In the past i have tried to answer this question and probably not very well in all honesty, so today i'm going to try and answer it again after a revelation on Sunday afternoon, while chatting to my son.

The band that i sing for had our very first gig to a live audience, this is a bit of a joke because 3 of us have played together before but we have a new drummer (who is a good tub thumper) as with all bands we rehearse like mad and try to get things right, sometimes songs work other times they just don't come together in any meaningful way so we drop them from the set list and drop something else into it, this week was no exception. At rehearsal we practised an AC/DC song called Highway to Hell, it's one of my favourite songs of all time and over the 30 years i have been in and out of bands we have all tried to play it. Now at rehearsal it was ok, not brilliant but ok, we knew we could do it and decided it was staying in the set.

Gig comes and we get to do the song, i was nervous because it requires a vocal range that i struggle with, and my good friend Mark Gilborson thinks we should turn the volume down so i dont have to scream at the top of my lungs, but we are a rock band and we play loud music. Anyway we started the song with that lovely riff and the people in the bar, started to take notice, some boogied, others started to nod their heads and sing along with us. We probably played it better than we ever have before, we in the parlance of our genre, we nailed it, it was as close to perfection as we were going to get it.

And this is when it dawned on me, when praying there are times i'm doing it and i know it's good, i know it's right and i know God is listening, it's a get by and hope routine. Then there are those times when i pray, when i know God is not only listening but is actually saying something through those prayers, either to me or to help the situation out. It's just something you know, it all falls into place, the words speak to the situation, the words help someone out, God gets involved in a very real way. We knew when the last chord hit the sound barrier we had nailed that song, we looked at each other with massive Chesire Cat grins on our faces, just knowing that we had done a great job.

And it's like that with prayer sometimes, we don't get answers right away so we keep on praying (rehearsing) we keep mindful of the situation and the situation or person we are praying for at the forefront of our mind. Then at some point the light bulb goes on and you know God is speaking (nailing that song). Answers do not always come easy, we need at times to keep on at God about the things we are praying for, after all if it's that important to us or those we are praying for we need to keep going until it's right. We are leading up to good Friday, and during this time Jesus goes into the garden at Gethsemene to pray, we know from bit's in the Gospel that he was in anguish, that he wanted to have the suffering taken away from him, but he prays something of utmost importance, which should set the bench mark for how we pray " if this cup of suffering can be taken away do so, BUT NOT MY WILL BUT YOURS BE DONE" This is the crux of the matter when praying, seeking the will of God, if it was good enough for Jesus it's good enough for us. We pray and sometimes don't get answers because we are praying for selfish aims and ends, for things that we want. God is not a cosmic Santa Claus, he is a loving father who wants whats best for us all the time. We can fight it, argue with him, but his way is the right way, his way is his will. As we come up to Good Friday and then on Sunday that glorious day of Resurrection, we can give thanks for all the things we don't have and all the things we do have. Sometimes you just know it's right, you just know it's God. We knew we nailed the song, it took some work but it was right and we all knew it. Finally could i ask you who read this to pray for Jacob my son, he is off to Romania again on his 2nd mission trip in 18 months, he turned 17 at Christmas, and despite his age and all those things you get with a 17 year old i worry about these things, i know he is doing Gods will for his life, because he has nailed the song he is singing.

God bless ya'all have a brilliant and awesome Easter, some of you i will see on the road if the wether is good enough for you dry weather bikers to get out and about lol.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Jesus walks into a bar.

I posed a question about what would we do if Jesus turned up to church today, came forward and took over the service. Some were going to be in awe, others wanted to know if it was the Historical Jesus or the Jesus of faith, others wondered what would actually happen. The answers were good and for those of my friends who don't belong to the group i posted it in i will post it to my wall if you want to see it. Now the question was fairly tongue in cheek, but like all these things an element of truth was needed to answer it. When you ask these sorts of questions you can see a lot about the person by the way they answer. But anyway back to JESUS WALKS INTO A BAR, because i want to put something out there.

Leading up to Easter we get lots of great images of Jesus and one of the big ones is the turning over of the tables in the temple, he turns over many tables and gets into all sorts of trouble, upsets the religious people of his day and gets a bit of a reputation. The good church going folk want him dealt with, they want him sorted out one way or another ( and in all honesty they got him dealt with one way, but the outcome was another) thing entirely. It's far to easy to say that was then this is now, but the truth is we still suffer from the same problems. We have tables both spiritual and structural that in some cases means more to us than god and his kingdom, we deny it and say no no no, but the truth is yes yes yes. We are too religious and rely to much on our structures and ways of doing things, and it happens in all churches, the service structure is relatively the same week in week out and woe betide you if you attempt something new, if i had a £1 (dollar for my American publisher friend) for every time someone has mentioned something not being in the right place or at the right time, i would be able to run Rosie (my bike) for a year. Here is the point and i know many of you will disagree and you are welcome too, our structure has become a table that needs to be overturned by Jesus, this is not just the structure of Church but also the structure of our lives and how we work out our faith. But it's not just Christians we all suffer with needing tables turned over. In a spiritual sense the turning over of those tables was a pulling down of strongholds, a pulling down of the things that keep us from doing. The act of turning over the tables was the start of a spiritual battle that had seen good people enslaved by good people. But they were slaves to order, slaves to structure and Jesus was about to pull it down.

As we come to Easter we need to look at the tables in the temples of our lives, look at those things that stop us doing, stop us fulfilling and just push them over. It will be hard in some cases because those tables have taken some deep deep roots in some cases, but they can be over turned. Maybe it's an anger table, maybe it's a work table, maybe it's a health table. No matter what it is i ask that we each look at those tables and pull them down. We can be as religious as the Pharisees and be in denial, we love our structures and they can be good. But when the structure takes over and becomes the all encompassing thing, they become a god and we get into the real danger of worshipping them.

If Jesus walked into a bar and you were there, what would you do?

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dirty words (for Easter)

When i got saved back in the early 80's a lot was made of the cost of following Jesus. Words like discipleship, carrying your cross, die to self and my selfish aims, forsaking all things for the kingdom. heck within the first year of being a Christian i had read the bible front to back, started preaching and was seeing God move in my life radically. My influences were from evangelical circles, with a couple of Catholics and a travelling Monk. Some were household names within Christendom others were just brilliant at giving me a chance to see God move in my life, they took a risk got into trouble for it (Bob Hyde)  They have gone on to have a ministry in God that is amazing ( Steve Parsons) and still people see me as a risk but are prepared to back me up and support me in what i do for as we call it the God thing (Mark Gilborson and Pete Pillinger) who from a Methodist view have really taken a risk with their support of me. Some of these people are new to my life others are old friends. Then there are those outside of the kingdom, those friends of mine who profess a different path, those who profess no faith at all, but support me with love and tolerance (Ian Norton, Carla shosoni, Phillip salisbury) to name a fewEach and every one of them and a shed load of unnamed people make my life what it is.

So why the title and why now? well it's Easter soon and at this time of year a great deal of my time is taken up with the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus something i'm so in love with, something that impacts on my life daily i need to shout it out in some way. For me Easter is the most important party of the Christian calendar, it's the part that when i look at it, makes more sense than anything else to me with regards to my faith. So i'm going to use and say over the next week or two words which will offend, words which will bring hope, words that will make us think.

I'm not ashamed of the gospel or the cross of Christ, i have a cross inked onto my chest, just above my heart, it's always there always a reminder. In this day and age a number of Christians try to play down the significance of the cross, they say it's not the central point of the faith we possess as Christians, and in part that is true. If we only focus on the cross we miss the part about the resurrection, we miss the new life that comes with the new day. But before we get to that we have to have the cross, we have to have it's brutality, we have to have it's ugliness, we have to have it's wonder. We cannot merrily skip by what happened on the cross like we are playing hopscotch in the playground, we cannot deny it in anyway, if we are going to be professing Christians, we may not like it, but we cannot ignore it.

Unashamedly i'm evangelical, never really been anything else and never will be, my thoughts and faith have changed over the years. But i hold to those core values that were instilled in me in the early days of my faith. We are coming to Easter, a time for celebration, chocolate eggs, families and for reflection. My hope is that over this time we reflect on what it all means to us as individuals, that we look at the cross and resurrection, we gain some sense of what it cost to bring us back to God, and to do that we do need to look at the cross.

The good book tells us" to pick up our Cross daily, and to carry it" not to worship it, but to carry it, at times it can be heavy, at times it's going to be a painful process. But through it all God is with us, helping us, holding us and most importantly loving us.
This is the start of my Easter blog and over the next few weeks i hope to change, my hope is that we all change, even just a little. For those of you who make my life what it is i thank you from the bottom of my heart, and in some way you all help me understand God a little better

God bless ya

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A sense of community

It's become apparent that i need to belong, that i need to feel loved, needed and valued. This is not about how that is happening, but something each and every person on the planet wants, we all want to be loved or cared for. We deny it and put on a rufty tufty front and hard ass masks, but when the lights go out and we are alone with our thoughts, we crave it almost like a drug. Is it a flaw in our character as human beings, is it a drug we cannot control and which if we do not get it, suffer withdrawal symptoms. There are many hurting people i know, those who daily, slog through the mire that life chucks at them, some do a great job at hiding it, others do a really poor job, because they cannot attach the mask properly. Last week someone told me it was "ok for you because God is on your side" yes thats true, but i believe God is on all our sides. The difference is i'm not immune to the troubles of life, i get down, i get stressed, boy do i get angry and at times i'm less than a good chap. But i believe God is there to see me through those times, i'm not alone, i'm not walking this path solo. Also i have some incredible friends, who despite their own difficulties are there for me when i need them, a phone call, a text, a stupid picture on my FB wall all helps in some way.

I have a very simple faith in God, it's not overly complicated in real terms. I'm no longer an analyst of what happens, i'm trying to move away from being theologically based and actually trying to be more compassionate, putting those things Jesus said into practise, and trying to show that even with my mass of imperfections that God is right beside me, he is walking with me, laughing with me, crying with me. That overall nothing i can do is going to make him think any less of me, he is truly a friend.

My friends mean the world to me, they make sense of a lot of what goes on and guide me along the path of my life. They show me by example what it takes to be a friend in the bad times as well as the good. I see God in my friends, i see people who despite me, love me, care for me and hold me up, they do just what God does. When i need to be corrected they do it, when i need a shoulder they are there. Looking for God does not require us to be constantly looking to heaven (it helps to occasionally) but that is not all we do. Look around you, see the grace people show to you as a gift from God, sometimes we concentrate so much on getting it right as Christians, that we miss the obvious, the right in front of us.
Being a Christian is not about always being right, it's not about how much better than you i am (because i'm not any better) it's not about, having the last word, or standing aloof from the troubles of life. For me a massive part of my faith is actually about standing in the trouble of life and paddling out of it and helping people paddle out of it, being involved in the good, the bad, the ugly. It's about involvement in all the things that being human are, not standing aside, but standing in the muck and the gold and celebrating with my friends.

I'm proud to be a Christian and i'm proud to stand with my friends in good and bad times, I'm so very proud of my wife as well, who is discovering her ministry and fulfilling what God wants her to do. IN FACT LIFE IS GREAT AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME, and it will be GREAT when the tough times come, because i will have people, who stand with me, show me they love me and support me. They will show me God even when they do not think they are.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The ordinary stupid amazing Cross.

In the start of this i want to point out this is not about anti intellectualism, but about faith. Many people think that faith in God is stupid, but we all act in faith, whether we think we do or not, we do. So why the title? It's simple really, in this day and age people want to in some cases try to explain away the wonder of that faith. There always has to be a logical, factual, scientific answer to the point you put forward, this in itself is a fallacy and a big fat raspberry. We are not meant to have all the answers, if we did it would not be faith, it would be science. Faith requires us to trust, and that is something we do not like doing as a rule, because we live in the now, technology is never going to fail us, science provides all the answers, again a fallacy.

So why the title, simple really, in 1 Corinthians chapter1,  Paul talks about the Cross confounding the wise, stumping people with it's brutality, making them think, why God why? so lets deal with it a point at a time, and this is by no means exhaustive.

The Ordinary: Jesus was not the first person to be crucified, in fact crucifixion was a regular occurrence, it was as regular as Saturday afternoon football. So common it had been turned into the best way to make someone die a slow painful death. So why make such a song and dance about another messianic figure getting nailed to a cross, unless there was something in it, that meant more than what was going on, that which we could see with our eyes.

The Stupid: Why would God allow his son to die in our place, why bother when if as i believe he knew the start from the end, he knew how we were going to react. It was stupid, it was moronic. It was stupid because the people wanted to see the messiah reign, they wanted liberation, what they actually got was a Carpenter, with 12 largely uneducated mates, wandering around the countryside and cities, telling everybody to love their neighbour, to care for the poor, to care for the least of society. He upset the established church, he railed against the selling of sacrificial animals, threw a fit and turned over the tables in the temple. All fairly stupid, when we look with our eyes. But look a bit further, look beyond what you can see and prove, open that part of your brain, that part of your spirit, that has faith and look a little deeper.

The Amazing: That ordinary cross bought about an amazing change in peoples lives, it bought about a change in mine, though if truth be known i fail more than i succeed regards my faith. But that amazing point in time, that perfect moment when Heaven and earth where united as one, when God said "yep you are worth it" changed everything. It was an amazing act of unselfish love, an amazing act of redemption for mankind. Jesus crucified for humanity, each and everyone of us.

Do i understand it all/ NO, do i need to understand it all? NO. Does it matter that people look at this event through closed blinkered minds? YES it matters. Does it change anything? YES it changes everything. Because Jesus was not just another body hanging on a cross, he was a somebody, dieing
for a nobody, saying in that one act, it only requires faith, i just need you to trust me. Many of us don't trust at all, maybe it's time we got back to trusting and along with that start trusting in God again.

P.S someone emailed me the other week telling me that i never use enough theological language in my blog, it shook me a bit and put me off writing it. But let me explain it in simple terms, people need to understand the story of Christ in an everyday language, which is relevant, easy, and above all accessible. The largest amount of people who read this are not church going folk (of which i'm pleased with) not because they do not go to church or have faith. but because i don't write theology, i write from my heart and experience, and they get it.  If you want theology buy a book or email me, then we can have a  theological chat.

Peace to you all peeps.