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