Sunday, 30 December 2012

Did I Really Write All That This Year?

Another blogging year has passed, and in true Chanel 4 bad TV style, here’s a look back at my favourite posts this year.
Waaaay back in January, Pastor Mark Driscoll was causing a stir with his marriage book he had written with his wife Grace, and also with his derogatory remarks towards our UK pastors, how very dare he! 

Here’s a look back at the post I wrote in response to that.  

Also in January Wikipedia went on strike for 24 hours and the cyber world didn't collapse! By the way does anyone know whatever did happen to the Wiki-leaks bloke? Is he still hiding in an embassy somewhere? Or am I completely mixing my news feeds?  Anyway, I came to the rescue and provided web surfers with any inane information they may have been looking for here.

February was a sad month for us, and no sooner had I posted about the church being more than just a building, rather, a gathering of Christians, our town faced a tough few weeks as the devastating news unravelled about our Vicar having been murdered at his home the Vicarage. All the denominations pulled together to support the members of the  C of E church, with services being held in our Baptist church and all different members of the community attending. 

The church on that occasion was definitely not the building. The church in February was the Christians from all the different meeting places who offered support to the confused and grieving, the church was the parents and teachers at school who comforted the children and assured them they were safe, the church was the high police presence who spoke to anyone and everyone as they met them in the street at the school gates, or outside the church. The church was and always will be God’s people who reach out in love and support to their brothers and sisters.

March was miracle month in which a nation (including Sun readers!) joined together in praying for a young footballer Fabrice Muamba who collapsed of a heart attack during a game.  He has since made a miraculous recovery and may even be able to take up professional football again in the future!

Also in March that age old question on everybody’s lips ‘what happens when we die?’…..What? Oh, you've never thought about it? Well perhaps after reading this post you might give it a thought, this also reminded me of a book review I posted, on Rob Bell’s book 'Love Wins' way back in the olden days of blogging, in which everyone ends up in Heaven! Yay, here’s hoping?!

April brought us the gay bus campaign, that’s right, you shouldn't judge a bus on its orientation….well, obviously, I suppose you may have to make a certain judgement based on its orientation or you may end up in Scratchy Bottom (real place Dorset) when you actually wanted to go to Sandy Balls! (real place Hampshire…….thank goodness the Wiki strike didn't last long).

I also started training for running my first and ahem, last 10k, and Monty Python taught us a lesson about accepting when we are beat and need help!

In May, I did against all expectations, complete the 10k, no I did not say I ‘ran’ it – that was never on the cards, but I was jolly chuffed with myself and my mates for what we achieved and we finished with a total of just over £1000 raised!

June, and the nation went crazy over the Royals, though I’m sure if you asked half the primary aged kids around the UK, if they could name  the Queen and her children and grandchildren, they would probably reply: “Freddie was gay wasn't he? I don’t think he had kids”. Who am I kidding, they won’t have ever heard of Queen.

This is a long post 'cause I'm covering the year for goodness sake! Go get yourself a cuppa and return, because coming up after the next paragraph break we have the next 6 months, find out what actually happened in August and why did they destroy Jimmy Saville's grave…….

Right, you sorted with your brew?  Good, because I bring you news that in July scientists found God, woop woop……oh no, wait, they found the 'god particle' my mistake. I don’t actually think they've ever looked for God, they should though,  it really would save a lot of money on big whiry things looking for particles, I mean, I have particles colliding in my house every day – it’s called dust.

August? What happened in August? I didn't write a single post. I can only imagine it being the school holidays I couldn't find a quiet 15 minutes to get anywhere near the lappy. Oh no actually I remember August, I slept through it.

September I ended up realising I’d been married for a very looooong time! Almost as long as the Hobbit movie – but with less animal deaths.

Every child of the 70’s & 80’s had there sad memories of unanswered letters turned to feelings of thank *£*$ for that, I’m so relieved Jim didn't fix it for me. C’mon though, we knew he was weird didn't we? It has since unravelled into a ‘who’s who’ of the 70’s & 80’s popular TV paedophile ring. Very sad and disturbing.  

What was also sad and disturbing in October was a community hall in our town deciding to have a séance for the kiddies on Halloween! Genius!

The last week in November was so busy for me with something on every night, that I had to pop this post into December, I know you won’t be picky about that, but if you really want a November entry, I’ll give you the review of the Derren Brown show and one of my favourite radio shows, Unbelievable.

My goodness, hasn't December come around quickly? I decided long ago not to think a year was a long time, because we all know only too well it is a very short time. 

We have a very short time to live out our lives; I think almost every year someone predicts the end of the world – Harold Camping last year, the Mayans this year, but the Bible tells us in Matthew 24:36 we will not know or be able to predict the return of Jesus. Peter tells us in his 2nd letter that time is irrelevant to God, but he definitely will return, for all who have trusted in him and believed in him, one day.

I enjoy wittering away in this little corner of the blogosphere, and I pray, that maybe sometimes I can encourage you, and make you smile; but above all, I hope I am showing you a God who loves you, and wants you to know him as a God who is your Saviour, as a God who is not happy with how the world is, but has a plan for it to be perfect and for you to be in it with him for eternity. I hope you've had a good year and here’s to a truly blessed and fun 2013.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Believe The Virgin Birth This Christmas

Do you believe a virgin gave birth to Jesus? Or is it something that you just accept as a myth, a nice part of the cute nativity story? 

In the last month on facebook I have seen many posts and pictures making a mockery of the virgin birth, usually suggesting that it might be a good excuse for a teenage girl to give their parents today "honestly Mum, I'm still a virgin!" and of course they are right to suggest that would be ridiculous and impossible. Well done atheists.

Not only would it be ridiculous and impossible today, it would also be unnecessary. The world only needs one saviour and he has already been born!

John 1:1-2

Contemporary English Version 
In the beginning was the one who is called the Word.
The Word was with God and was truly God.
From the very beginning the Word was with God.
Jesus was with God from the beginning, so he couldn't be conceived conventionally because he already existed, but to live amongst  us as a human and experience the same things as us; birth, childhood, puberty, teenage angst, family life, love, loss etc he had to be born, but he had to remain perfect and the only way to remain perfect was to keep man out of it. (Sorry man, but I often think to myself in various situations 'this would've been perfect without a man'!)

It's true. Man could not have impregnated Mary with the son of God! God had to do it and I don't think it's too much to believe that a God who can part seas and cure people of leprosy could have a virgin give birth to his child!

Jesus Christ did exist, most historians agree with that. (Unbelievable Podacast 'Did Jesus Exist?') If he was not the son of God, he was a narcissistic megalomaniac who has somehow kept people gripped by his teachings for over 2000 years, most nutters like that last a generation and either die naturally or kill themselves along with their cult, and the following dies, but not with Jesus.

Common English Version

23 Jesus said: 
The time has come for the Son of Man to be given his glory.24 I tell you for certain that a grain of wheat that falls on the ground will never be more than one grain unless it dies. But if it dies, it will produce lots of wheat. 25 If you love your life, you will lose it. If you give it up in this world, you will be given eternal life. 26 If you serve me, you must go with me. My servants will be with me wherever I am. If you serve me, my Father will honor you.
27 Now I am deeply troubled, and I don’t know what to say. But I must not ask my Father to keep me from this time of suffering. In fact, I came into the world to suffer. 28 So Father, bring glory to yourself.
A voice from heaven then said, “I have already brought glory to myself, and I will do it again!”29 When the crowd heard the voice, some of them thought it was thunder. Others thought an angel had spoken to Jesus.
30 Then Jesus told the crowd, “That voice spoke to help you, not me. 31 This world’s people are now being judged, and the ruler of this world is already being thrown out! 32 If I am lifted up above the earth, I will make everyone want to come to me.” 33 Jesus was talking about the way he would be put to death.

Jesus knew how he was going to die and the purpose of his death, he also knew he would be resurrected and there are eyewitness accounts from people who met and spoke with Jesus after his death. All he spoke of was and is true.

Luke says at the beginning of his Gospel, he has made a careful study of all the facts concerning what God has done amongst us and written them down to tell us exactly what took place. John says near the end of his Gospel, that he wrote it so that we can know that Jesus is the son of God and put our faith in him and have eternal life through him.

You don't have to wonder whether or not you can believe this age old story of the virgin birth, you only have to read the historical Gospel accounts that were written for a time when it would be impossible to believe such a story, they gathered the facts for us, they spoke to the witnesses for us, they recorded it for us. Jesus came into the world to save us, he died for us and he is alive today in Heaven for us. 

Celebrate that fact this Christmas, believe the story of the virgin birth this Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The 'Stuff' Of Christmas

Uggh, Christmas. Why does that word fill me with dread every year? I want it to fill me with Peace and Joy and glitter like you see on the cards. I want to love it and embrace it but it isn't a season to be jolly at all!

I don't want to harp on about the true meaning, we all know the true meaning, and if you don't - well go and enjoy yourself with your flexible friend.

In the world of a family with children, Christmas is about 'stuff' and knowing what 'stuff' your child wants is just the most impossible task.

Even they don't know what they want (apart from my 8 year old who has a list as long as your arm, filled with 'plastic fantastic').

If money were no object we could just go out and get them expensive 'stuff' that they don't want or need, but would probably be pretty impressed with.  But I wouldn't do that anyway, so money isn't the issue.

I am quite happy to let the weeks go by, and I know that by Christmas morning the kids will have 'stuff', not sure where it'll appear from, but we've never let them down yet and I doubt we will this year; but my husband is panicking, "we have to go and get them something, time's running out"!

Our parents are panicking, "what do they want us to buy for them?" "I DON'T KNOW!" I don't even know what they want me to buy for them!

Time's running out for what? The end of the world? (December 21st by the way, so I really don't need to think about Christmas until we're sure that hasn't happened).

I blame the wise men. Without them Christmas would not be about 'stuff'. Did they run around in a panic about their gifts? Did they constantly enquire of Mary "what does he want?" Did she say "well don't get him Frankincense 'cos I know Melchior's getting him that". Were Gaspar and Balthazar stopping off on the journey to Bethlehem in every little corner trading stand because they'd left it to the last minute, and hadn't bought something before they'd left, and then fighting over who was going to give him the Gold? Because let's face it, that's gonna look like a much better gift than Myrrh.

Maybe Melchior regretted being so organised in already having purchased his Frankincense and wished he'd waited, so he could've chosen to give the Gold? who knows?

And maybe, just maybe, Joseph and Mary and little baby Jesus, would've just been pleased to see them, even if they had brought nothing. Maybe they would've just said "thank you for coming to celebrate the birth of God's son, thank you for taking the time to visit us and coming on such a long journey. We haven't got a very big Turkey, but we'll make it stretch, and if it doesn't? who cares?"

So, every Christmas, that's what gets me down, trying to find the right 'stuff' for the right person, so that they can open it on Christmas day, look at it on Boxing day, and discard it by New Year.

Oh, and as for putting a tree? Inside your house? Whose great idea was that? The shepherds I suppose.

Disclaimer: For an accurate account of the Christmas story please go toMatthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Week Of Youth, Comedy And Rock!

That was one of the busiest weeks of my life! Now I know for some of you high-flying non-stop people out there, you would probably have considered my week restful, but for me it was full-on!

Started last Friday morning heading off to Eastbourne for Youthwork the Conference. My first time to such an event and I surprised myself by really enjoying it. 

I don't really consider myself a 'youth worker', just an 'adult' that turns up on a Sunday evening; there were bona fide youth workers there, who really get into the thick of it and put their hearts and souls into what can seem like an endless task and refuse to give up on the kids or give in to the crap that is constantly thrown at them.  It was wonderful to hear genuine testimonies from two young adults who had been helped by such people when they were kids, who wouldn't give up on them.

There were plenty of varied seminars to chose from and on Saturday morning I went to the mentoring one. I'm not an allocated mentor to a child but it is something that interests me very much. I think there is an importance that cannot be underestimated in a child being able to have an open honest relationship with an adult, in which the child feels valued, unjudged and above all LISTENED to! That relationship isn't always naturally there with a parent, even in the most loving of families.

I wrote on my notepad during the seminar "I remember being sent to a head of year's office for being in trouble at school, I started to talk to her about things at home, I felt the responsibility and I just wanted to talk to her about everything but there was no time. I wanted to be listened to."

That memory for me came back as clear as day, and I realised it is something I have tried to achieve as an adult, to be someone who listens to my own children; but also I have impressed upon them, if they ever can't talk to me about something, they have my full support to open up to whoever it is they trust and feel comfortable with.

It was a full weekend! I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of it but I would recommend you looking up Pete James who led the worship in a most awesome way! I love live music but it was a new experience for me having been to loads of concerts, to be in a big worship 'concert', very different, I was conscious of the adoration going to Jesus, rather than the 'rock gods' on stage!

The other big highlight speaker who I would recommend a Google is Chris Durso, in fact, if you didn't make the weekend and you can download the two talks he did they were excellent, and really made an impact on me.  He's from Queen's New York but he came across so well to a British crowd!

The four hour journey to and from Eastbourne was done in our church minibus, which sounded like it had terrible indigestion the whole time, our drivers were excellent, but I feel they wouldn't have fared so well had I not been in the passenger seat right beside them, pointing out the braking lights on the cars in front and possible lane change of the lorries beside us, I am thoughtful when it comes to helping out drivers.

Then the rest of my week was filled with work, Bible studies and play. Note the lack of 'rest'! Something I am quite partial to!

I went on Wednesday to see Jeff Lucas and Adrian Plass, who I saw on their Seriously Funny tour last year it was a great night again, with lots of laughs, but also some quite moving interaction with the audience in the Q&A half. 

The funniest line of the night though, was in the car on the way home when our friend who had come with us said "I thought it was going to be a Bible study." Bless her! We had done a Jeff Lucas study in our home group (not studied Jeff, I mean a book/dvd he presents and you study the Bible following his provocations.) and she had thought it was going to be an extension of that.......not quite!

Also this week I went to see Europe (told you I'd been busy), not all of it - just the Swedish 80's hair band of 'final countdown' fame. Now if you come from my neck of the woods you will be familiar with terms such as 'gurt lush, mint, alright my lover' etc. Now imagine a Swedish front man telling the audience all the saying's he's learnt from playing gigs in Brizzle. Who taught him them? Has he been going up Bedminster on his lunch break, or stopping off in Primark to pick up a nice pair of leather trousers for tonight's gig?

So as you can imagine, after all those shenanigans it is 10.30am Saturday morning and I am still firmly in HQ, (bed) I have sent out the instructions to the masses (children) to put a uniform wash on and strip their beds (they are out of them) and I intend to have a thoroughly relaxed weekend!

God Bless you all!