Tag Archives: god

If Jesus Took A Selfie

Jesus_wept___painted___thumbna_by_g_owenOne of my most memorable selfies I have taken was a few years ago, when I was walking from my hotel to my ordination venue in Plymouth. It was a glorious day summers day, I had a number of my family and friends with me, and it was the culmination of years of training, and I wanted to share as a way of logging the moment, for friends and family who couldn’t be there on the day. To me Selfies communicate a message about who, what or where you are

Hypothetically if Jesus had done selfies what would be in them, what about a selfie with the crowd, just after Jesus had fed five thousand of his followers with five loaves and two fish. Perhaps in amongst the selfies with the poor, marginalised, and the centurion whose daughter he brought back to life, would be a defining moment. With the tomb stone rolled away,  Jesus is just about to walk out into the sunlight of the third new day after his death, so he lifts his phone and takes a shot. So that we might remember there is always hope.

The Oscars selfie by Ellen DeGeneres was seen by many millions of people and became the most retweeted picture ever.

Ellen-DeGeneres-Academy-Award-Twitter-Oscar-Selfie-Photo

Is a great happy photo of famous people, at one of the worlds top movie awards, its also being used to stop seal unting! The Selfie phenomena isn’t very new, but Ellen amongst others popularised it. As did the latest cancer research campaign in the UK where women posted pictures of themselves without makeup on, These pictures illustrate for us a symbolic need to strip away societal taboo or social awkwardness and getting real about certain types of cancer.

Selfies can be a powerful tool to highlight something, draw attention to an issue or indeed share your joy with the world. As Jesus people lets think about whats in our next selfie, perhaps in a church event, or where you volunteer in a soup kitchen, and or a food bank, or sitting you with a refugee. Lets let the world see what God is doing through you and with you. Not that we might win praise but that the kingdom of God might grow. If you like post your pictures in the comments below. Lets take selfies as Jesus would have, not to glorify ourselves draw attention to those who are suffering, to those with no voice. Finally do get permission first!

Retreat Is Not Surrender

stressedThe phone is ringing constantly, I am being overrun by emails, my diary is full to bursting, I am stressed and to my horror I look ahead in my diary to see, that the entry for the next day, is blocked between 10am and 3pm as a spiritual retreat with my wife (not that spending time with my wife is a bad thing!) I instinctively wonder where on Gods green earth do I have the time for that!?! I begin to frantically think of excuses, so I can cancel it and keep my nose to the grind stone, and do Gods work for the church he has placed me in.

Yes I get to that place all to often with my schedule. When I’m generally too busy to pray, read the bible, spend time with my family, eat well, and actually relax in any meaningful way or indeed any of the aforementioned in a way that is satisfying.

It doesn’t even seem to matter that a few weeks ago, my body tried to teach me a lesson and took matters into its own hands! It was as though my body had decided to club together for an intervention to make me stop. It collected a nasty flu bug,  breathed it in deeply and nagged me over the preceding  week that if I didn’t rest I was done for and indeed I was! By thursday evening of that week, after I got back from  my second funeral that day I only had only one option, which was climb into bed and stay there for a few days. I cancelled my services and appointments and rested and wasn’t myself really until the following week.

But back to this retreat in the diary, what was I to do? Well, do you know, I didn’t cancel it and went on it just me and my lovely wife, we talked, prayed, ate snacks and looked at the beautiful view. We even did an entry in our couples devotional bible that we have been doing sporadically for our 13 years of marriage, we are in Nehemiah! We both experienced Gods peace, his holding, realigning our perspective to his, a reduction in stress and a reorientation to the path the Lord is leading us on.

My work load hadn’t diminished, but somehow taking that space and time, to centre on who I work for rather on what my denomination demands of me, made the jobs, the need for inspiration a little easier and life became more in perspective. Just as the gospel of Matthew 6 :28-34 reminds us to live  first seeking the kingdom of God.

Sometimes the last place we go, is the place we should start. I encourage you to retreat, not out of weakness but the need to seek God, lean on him, trust in him, deepen our walk with the only one who sees the whole picture and for whom the present you’re experiencing storm is already history. Then step out in faith not leaving God behind, but lifting your head up looking ahead at what is coming together with the one who loves you more completely now than he can ever love you.

1900031_10153932473690111_2012419033_n “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

How To Make Friends…

HowToWinFriends-245x300

A few days before we left for our holiday this past week, I was watching my favourite You-tuber, Shay Carl. During the vlog Shay got talking about the most influential authors in his life. He spoke about a self-help or self discovery book called  How To Win Friends And Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I was rather sceptical and dismissive of the title and in some ways I still am. Yet there was something in what Shay said that moved me to action, so I thought I would give the book ago. 

I downloaded it as an audio book, and over the next few days, I couldn’t stop listening. The book took around seven hours I reach the end of the book and I found myself deeply challenged and emotional,  by what the author was saying about how we should live out our lives in a social media business orientated context, I found myself wishing I had read this many years ago. What I heard was not so much a business model or a list of steps, but principles for dealing with all people with grace and love; which is of course at the heart of the gospel of Jesus. I am the kind of person who is always open to the possibility that God might be using a situation or person, as a teachable moment, of challenge, and or blessing, but just incase you might find it useful like me, I thought I would write about it in a post.

A snapshot of the books underlying principles, is that our interactions with one another, whether business or pleasure,  should be a meaningful and of genuine interest in the other, and that whether at home or in business, we should practice empathy. Putting others feelings wants and desires before our own, the book even spends several minutes discussing the power of forgiveness and the need to trust in it! This isn’t a book about Jesus, but for me, the principles and suggestions make more sense and root deeper in my heart, when seen through the lens of what the gospel of Jesus calls us to be and do.

I can’t help but see a spiritual underpinning, that looks remarkably like the Kingdom of God that Jesus was talking about 1,935 years ago, before the original book was published. The illustrations used in the version I read were extensive, enlightening and relevant. You can get summaries of the book and the main points all over the internet, just search for it. 

So I invite you to read, or as I did download the audio book, of How To Make Friends And Influence People In The Digital Age. As you read or listen to it I encourage you to listen for God, open your ears and heart to the whisper of the spirit of God obvious and not so obvious within its narrative.

Why not comment below on what the books are that have inspired you? Now hooked on books (or audiobooks) I am excited to listen to the novel I have just downloaded, so until next week. See Ya

Its life Jim but not as we know it…

Christian mission has had negative connotations, I am sure you can think of a few, where the church has used inappropriate methods and terminology to “save the lost”!

But in recent years this has been changing, and no less this week with the Together Mission Project in the North East of England, which brought together many Methodist congregations, to not condemn people, or fit them into some pre-existing model, or manipulate some kind of fake christian response. Instead thorough their  action, the word mission has come to be synonymous with the servant heartedness of Jesus himself. Who served people, loved people, even took a towel wrapping it around his waist and washed the disciples feet days before his death.

The message of the gospel has not been dulled down or diluted but reshaped by a question and which demands a response. What is God doing in our community? Once we prayerfully figure that out, our response should be to get involved.

This week I have not seen mass conversions, or revival. But something even more exciting, the birth of faith, embryonic, fragile, so easily forgotten. The lyrics “its life Jim but not as we know it…” (star trekking song) perhaps is a good quote to end with, as it says something of what has begun here. Faith has been born in others not in our neat religious boxes but something new, but no less christ centred. And its alive, but not life in our current traditional model. Therefore God is calling is to respond in a new way.

Running Man: A Perfect Run

Yesterday evening, was foggy and drizzling, I wasn’t awfully keen on running but I got my gear on, and included my rain proof running jacket. Seconds into it my left foot started hurting, but I made a mental note to put some inflammation cream on later, and instead of stopping just kept going, but slower. 

Why am I telling you this? 

I was running a bit slower (because of my foot) and my breathing was steady, there was no-one around, all i could hear was the melodic noise of my feet hitting the wet ground, It was bliss, a perfect run.

I didn’t stop for 35 mins which is a first! I got home, and yes was pleased to look at my stats, which were 11 min mile and I had burned over 500 calories which was all awesome. But greater than that was the sense inside myself of contentment, and feeling deeply relaxed, it was a special moment that lasted.  Perhaps you might say “well thats the endorphins, my boy!” But I believe we are more than our chemical reactions.

I am a christian and have experienced deeply spiritual moments before and this wasn’t quite that as it was an internally directed experience rather than externally,. What I was experiencing was a deep physical relaxation, not tiredness but just very relaxed from top to toe, it was brilliant.  

I just wanted to share with you my perfect run and will hope their are many more. It wasn’t about by running stats, that made it perfect but the sense of well being I had at the end, that made it perfect.

 

Happy Running.  

 

May the road always be flat or sloping,

may the wind be at your back,

and the son in your heart. Amen

An Alien In My Head!!

I watched the film “Host” yesterday, which is a film about an alien invasion, where humanity is pretty much wiped out. The aliens take over by inhabiting our bodies. They control our bodies, but our consciousness remains mostly subdued, enter our heroine who fights back, against the alien entity! However the inhabitation results in world peace, an end to poverty and global warming! Bear with with me, my non sci-fi friends.

The movie, got me thinking about the nature of freedom, which is often perceived as a fight against all kinds oppression be that political, military and perhaps when we are younger our parents will, and lastly maybe in the future aliens. (Sorry last mention of aliens, promise lol)

I wondered if I would share my body with an entity, that would ultimately make me safe when walking down a dark alley, which would allow me to fully trust my fellow human being, rather than being sceptical, and wondering if I was being tricked in some way.

Perhaps you are shouting at the screen right now, there is no reason I would share my head space with another being, even if that resulted in some kind of utopia, my freedom doesn’t have a price. I felt that too. And then realised whether it is that reaction that underpins, how many react to God.

A God who Christian’s believe fills us with his presence, and his word, and guides us. After all scripture reminds us we are temples of the Holy Spirit. You will have noticed however, that having Gods presence inside us, hasn’t lead to world peace, a uniformity of faith, theology or Christian living; issues around sex and gender are just examples of this.

Why might we fight for freedom or so called, because we want to be free to choose our way, subsequently many have thrown off this God based perceived shackle God can offer us a different kind of freedom, a freedom in relationship with God, a big picture freedom, of blue sky’s and neighbourly love, and eternity. Is that not worth giving up a bit of our choice, our freedom for? Instead of fighting, listening to what God is saying to us as he speaks to us through the natural and manmade things in our lives, calling to us in a cacophony of ways.

Lord God may for today I choose not my desires but yours, even if they seem strange to me, for you are a God who calls me to love self as you see me, and others as much as you love me.

Amen


ps thank you for all your likes on my recent
Posts on Easter weekend, the character introduced you too their will return!

“They say I am going to Hell”

It’s day one of a few days off, and as I was walking down the mall at my favourite shopping centre, I over heard from inside a shop (lush,) (that sells soaps and bath things) two colleagues speaking.

What caught my attention in the seconds it took to pass their shop was the comment, “they say I am going to Hell.” I carried on walking maybe got a 100 yards when something in my gut compelled me to turn around and head back to that shop, I had to let them know, that not all Christians think their going to hell that god loves all people no matter who you are or where you have been.

I wondered round the shop, wondering how to begin, and smiled inwardly when the aforementioned shops colleague asked, are you on a mission for something! And I began, and what emerged was a good conversation, we talked about the media, philosophy, religion, sexuality, and the policy’s of the shop he proudly worked with.

This openly gay man said he felt sorry for people who opposed the bill in parliament, that more than anything it was a step in the right direction for equality, he realised that the media had hyped it up, that whilst not being religious, he did believe in God, who I reminded him loved him. A little while later I left. Feeling that today I had served The Lord, perhaps helped someone realise that sometimes our prejudices define our religion rather than the other way around.

Its interesting also, that when I am on my holiday, and my mind is not full of meeting, and to do lists, I hear Gods call, and have the time to actually do what he wants me to do. Tell a people who in the words of the man I spoke with, feel marginalised, and feel that yesterday was a step in the right direction for equality above any other politics or religious rhetoric. Sentiment I think Jesus would whole heartedly punched the air and said yes with.

I do wrestle with how this will be worked out in practice, but feel I need to draw close to the one who declares that there is no one who can escape the love of God slave or free. A love that we see so clearly in the actions of Jesus, who touched the leppors, welcomed the women, and when to tea with outcasts calling each to follow him.

To conclude, I live in a country that is religiously marginalised, I work for a church that is shrinking, and so societal changes have a more direct influence on us, and give us something to wrestle with, perhaps differently than if I lived in a nation where what I believe is not a marginalised view point.

Lord let me seek you
Lord let me hear you
Lord renew my mind and heart, instep with yours.

Amen

Facebook offers eternal life!

Recently in my preaching I have been reminding people of their place in heaven (eg that they have one). In funerals I talk of the room Jesus prepares, a room of peace, healing and eternally in Gods presence.

Whilst on Facebook, I read a status update on a page of a colleague of mine, who used to work for Samaritans with me. I hadn’t heard from my Facebook friend for sometime, and began to read her sisters post, and as I read, I discovered something, that actually my friend died over a year ago. I knew she had been ill but hadn’t realised how ill. The post itself finished simply “stating another Christmas without you! Missing you.”

I saw Facebook in a new way, it offers those of faith and of none, a place to hold onto a loved one, speaking to them, in some kind of digital eternity. If I didn’t believe in heaven, this would be a source of comfort, to help me hold onto them.

But the heaven of the bible is not a kind of digital status chamber. It’s living, in a new way, its I believe, vibrant and colourful, we become fully as god intended, we are made whole. We won’t be stuck with ageing bodies but ones that are new and eternally ageless. I am reassured that scripture doesn’t say anything about eternal church services, heavenly worship will be so much more, much much more.

Turning off your beloveds Facebook or Twitter account, or the digital footprint they leave behind, has become one of those big decisions, like when to get rid of their clothes. Or delete their emails.

Holding onto the digital footprint of your loved one has the potential to be helpful and destructive, holding onto God as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and trusting eternal designs to him. Is where I find peace, for my friend who died, and for those whom I miss.

A Brown Taped Bible

A Brown Taped Bible

Sitting across from me is a bible. I know it’s a bible, because of where I am, but if I was somewhere else like a coffee shop or library I wouldn’t be sure. This bible isn’t shiny or new, it’s bent from usage, it has seen hard times. The cover mended so many times, it’s now completely covered in brown tape obscuring its title and its potential.

I wonder if you or I might be a little like this bible, bruised and battered, tired and weary, needing rather than another strip of tape to patch us up, instead we long for renewal.

Underneath the tape of that covered bible sitting on the table, beats the heart of the living God and that is no different for us, who are bound in tape. We know the riches of Gods word, we know the inner reassurance of his presence (I pray), just somewhere along the way, tiredness has crept in, weariness as settled on our spirits and we have forgotten?

Perhaps forgotten to look up, to look up into our heavenly fathers eyes and see our reflection, and let him breathe into us his refreshing spirit. That our bonds might fall away. That we might again walk on the edge with God holding onto his hand seeing others how he needs us too, being ready to speak his word bringing refreshing, renewal and challenge.

So my prayer…
Lord God, send your renewing spirit, where cynicism had left us cracked and dry, where life has left us jaded, thirsty and hungry, cloth us once again with power from on high. Fill us with your refreshing, that our journey might be a source of inspiration, our words reflect your mercy and grace, and help us to live anew whilst holding your hand.
Amen

Paralympics

I have followed the Olympics closely, loved every moment, followed the event via twitter, and it’s apps, as well as followed it on the. I am somewhat disillusioned by the quality of cover I find for the sister to the Olympics, the Paralympics. I can’t say I have watched it before, but I find that the Olympic apps don’t provide coverage but there are separate apps, which don’t seem as easy to navigate.

My mum is disabled as is my father in-law, I myself have an hearing impairment, so I perhaps am sensitive may be overly so, to what as I see as a subtle and not so subtle difference in the response between the Olympics and Paralympics.

After all paralympians have to train as hard as their Olympian counterparts and have to in some sports manage their disability and aides and still focus 100% on competing competitively both individually as well as in a team.

Have you noticed that when a Paralympican is announced so is their disability, Olympians don’t get that experience. Olympians can have wall to wall coverage by British media, their brother and sisters in sport find that there coverage is minimal.

Yet both men and women are apparently valued equally, if this is the case i would love to live in a society that showed it, that didn’t just speak or legislate but live equality. The kind of equality Jesus showed, to young and old men and women, disabled and able bodied he simply called all to follow him and showed then how. Even though the church doesn’t sometimes discriminate, I find that the love of God doesn’t, after all how could God discriminate against his own image, in which we are made.

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