Age, cost, Depression, Disappointment, Discouragement, doubt, Dreams, expectations, Experience, faithfulness, Grit, hope, Hopes and Dreams, Humanity, Risk and Change, self awareness, Spiritual Warfare, Step of faith, Suffering., Testimony, vocation

Looking back over my 30’s!

I remember 10 years ago about to turn 30!

30 -I couldn’t believe I was going to be 30!

30?!

I remember sat in a pub on the Quay -and called the Quay- in Poole.

I was all full of hope and excitement about life…

I was about to get married.

I was a year(ish) into my curacy and was about to be ordained Priest/Presbyter.

I was full of audacious dreams of the adventure God had planned for us in somewhere we did not yet know.

Today I’m feeling much more melancholy.

Looking back over the past 10 years have had some wonderful moments, particularly marrying Allana and our fantastic daughter.

But, I am asking myself 40? -How did that happen?

40,that can’t be right?

40!?

There have been some wonderful moments, seeing people pray prayers of commitment to Christ and meaning them, baptising adults, planting a Church -and a few new congregations-, seeing friends step into what God has for them especially those ordained (especially Sam)and seeing some wonderful Kingdom signs and wonders along the way too.

Yet there have been some tough moments too.

To be honest it feels a little like half way through a boxing match where you are dabbing your eye with a wet sponge and spitting blood into the bucket.

Sometimes when we stop we sometimes realise what a fight a season has been, how far you’ve come -and even if it doesn’t feel far, it is worth remembering that sometimes the shortest distances sometimes can be the toughest of drags. One clergy friend that had a tough time talked about “I ran with the ball and I made the 9 yards”. It might not feel a long way, but they were significant steps hard won and costly.

As I slipped into sulky mood, I began to have a bit of a self pity party with the people that let me down, the mean stuff people have said, the times plans didn’t go right and all sorts of bumps and bruises along the way.

Yet in it all I am sure I have learned stuff.

And despite sometimes feeling very confused, and even sometimes asking “God where are you?”, why is this happening” and “why did this door close?” I can still say (even though this has probably been the toughest decade of my life) that God has been, and is, faithful.

As I thought of that young thirty year old dreamer, I’m now a bit more gnarled and wrinkled, but we are standing on another new season.

The dream for God to take us, now the three of us (four if you include the dog) into new adventures into the unknown, with expectancy, again not knowing what the future holds, but knowing who it is that holds the future.

As I sit here, a bit battered, but still want that same dream to stay alive.

I think there is nothing spiritually mature about becoming jaded and downsizing our expectations of God. There is nothing Godly about playing it safe and going through the motions. There is nothing wise about allowing dreams to die and reducing and minimising your vision.

I love the C.S. Lewis quote that says “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream”.

why should the future look boring and safe? An adventure with Jesus might be tougher and harder than most of us thought when we surrendered our lives to him, but it is still the greatest calling we have.

It would have been so easy to keep on doing what we have been doing and just slowly die under the moany pessimistic emails, the endless cycle of harvest festivals and other annual events and preaching to people who have heard it all a million times but longing to preach to someone who has not heard it at all.

It is so easy to be safe keep your head down grit your teeth and think about your pension, yet I believe that God has so much more for all of us than our 9-5 prisons.

As we get older, sometimes the risks feels bigger (especially those of us with families) and the jumps feel further, and the costs seem greater and yet the truth of God’s faithfulness remains the same, constant.

So, looking back and looking forward, however it looks I want to pledge one thing, it will be about Jesus, the one who is the same today, yesterday and forever.

It will be uncertain although it is in the service of the only truly certain thing in this universe -Jesus is this life’s only true certainty.

So, although I feel like I’m sat on a stall, it’s time to return the gum-shield, step into a different ring and listen to the bell and see what God ahs in store for the next decade.

It’s not about how much it cost -although sometimes that does feel quite in your face at times- but rather it is about how great is the prize, the Kingdom, the pearl of great price, the one worth it all.

“were the whole realm of nature mine that were an offering far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”.

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Dreams, hope, Politica, steadfast, vision

Things can only get better?

Yesterday it was the 20th anniversary of Tony Blair’s historic Labour landslide in 1997, for many of us it was our first time voting in a general election, also the Tories were all we could remember, they had (it seemed to us) been there forever.

I remember a couple of weeks before the election and a friend said in the pub “I still reckon that some how those unscrupulous Tory ******* will some how get back in!”

Yet here before our eyes we saw history being made, as seats bluer than Bernard Mannings joke book became New Labour Scarlet, and many of the giants of the Tory Party were felled by the voters.

I have heard people say that the biggest killer is apathy, but my generation wasn’t particularly apathetic, I voted first thing in the morning as soon as the polling station was open, and at work the next day many of us were bleary eyed from staying up until about 3ish -“did you see Portillo?”

Britain was changing and would never be the same again.

For us, we saw that our vote changed things. That change was possible. That what had looked like it was set in concrete wasn’t. More-over the mistakes of our parents generation (not that my parents have ever voted Tory I’m pleased to say) could be rectified, this was a generation forging its own future with a new set of values.

I remember the song that was the Labour Parties Election theme “Things Can Only Get Better”, I remember being struck by the message of Hope, bill-boards said “Labour: Class sizes will get smaller” or “Labour: wages will increase”.

Fast forward a few years and I remember 10 years ago Barak Obama getting elected the first black President of the United States, the same message of Hope, “YES we CAN!” -in fact Obama called his autobiography “the Audacity of Hope”. It is incredible to think of a black president of the United States of America when as recently as the 1960’s Blacks and whites weren’t even allowed to sit together on buses.

I remember reading “Rosa (Parks) sat so Martin (Luther King Jr) could walk, Martin walked so (Barak) Obama could stand, Obama stood so our children can fly”.

The idea that we are making history and the world a better place for our children is a compelling vision.

Yet fast-forward to today.

Sadly the achievements of Labour were blighted by the Iraq war and the global recession and they are back in opposition, the Tories look unbeatable again.

Young people who probably have seen both Labour and Conservative in power probably think “why bother”, and ask does my vote change anything.

Obama’s “YES we CAN” has been replaced by the world asking of America “They Can’t Can They?”

This election is not fuelled by hope but fears.

“Things can only get better” is not the mood of the country which is more fearful than I can remember in a long time.

So, is this blog about my political viewpoint? well no, actually it is about something far deeper, it is about not letting a dream die.

It is easy to say “wasn’t that good” or be nostalgic for the good old days, easy to set a moment as a ‘golden era’ never to be equalled let alone excelled, it is easy to think that the hopes of our youth have matured as we have become more jaded, cynical and our defeatism can have an older sounding rhetoric.

It is amazing how quickly we forget that things can and do change.

It is amazing how quick we can feel disenfranchised again, how discouraging circumstances stop us dreaming those big, crazy audacious dreams of a different world.

More over if we stop dreaming that a better and different world is possible, we wont bother to fight and achieve it.

Take hope out of our hearts and we are lost.

The Tories are saying they are going to defeat Corbyn with a landslide, and is a clever tactic because if people give up before the start then we have lost.

If you don’t play to win in sport you nearly always loose.

Battles that are fought are won or lost in our minds.

Some one once said “do events happen to us, or do we happen to events?”

It is amazing how the radical revolutionary sinks back into the mire of the despondency.

Imagine for a moment the earliest of disciples, locked in the upper room for fear of the Jews, hidden away, and when the Holy Spirit came they were filled with boldness (which is a fruit of Hope) and this small group of uneducated artisans went out speaking to the people and changed the world forever.

Yet despite seeing thousands come to Christ, soon persecution happened and things went badly wrong, and yet despite their change in circumstances, the challenges and the opposition they kept on going…

Here is Paul talking about his recently Missionary endeavours “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers” 2 Corinthians 11. Yet Paul never gave up.

So, as we approach this election, as we are in very different circumstances in a time that feels very different, my message to myself and to anyone who reads this blog, is don’t let discouragements and oppositions burst our dreams of making the world a better place for our children.

In fact the world seems a darker place than 20 years ago, but when it gets darker the light shines more brightly.

when times are at their most challenging and depressing we need the dreamers and the prophets more than others.

Anyone can be an optimist on the mountain top, but it takes bravery and courage to be an optimist in the valley.

we may live in a very different time, and the world may feel very different, but lets “not grow weary in doing good for at the right time we will reap a reward if we do not give up!”

In the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Robin is fighting in the water and he shouts to Azeem his friend to ask hat to do, and Azeem tells him to “get up and keep fighting”. I think that is a message for all of us who maybe feel a bit weary and battle warn, when maybe Hope feels more like a distant memory that a present reality.

I’ll end wth a quote from CS Lewis who said “You are never too old to set a new goal or dream a new dream” -So let’s keep dreaming and fighting to turn these dreams to reality.

I

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Boldness, Community, Discipleship, Fear, hope, Mission, The Turning

Word on the Street 2

we are nearing the end of the Bristol Turning Mission Fortnight, and I am really tired, but I’m also excited, encouraged and also still feel a little daunted.

I started this mission, nervously excited (but secretly bricking it a bit if I’m honest!) with lots of questions, in fact my nervous excitement was worried about being excited as have thought many times that I had the keys to world evangelisation (okay slight exaggeration!) only to come away feeling a bit disappointed.

A while back I was holding a meeting about Church planting and mission and this amazing dude called Mark from the Salvation Army was saying NASA had invented a dart board that copes with 0 gravity in space that is computerised and moves so you always it a bullseye. Too often I’ve had to make encouraging noises for the team, “well it is good we are a positive and visible presence in the community”, “they might not have become Christians but we blessed them”, “we don’t know what seeds have been sown” (all of which are true) but masking the disappointment that “we had fished all night and caught nothing!

I wonder if as Churches we fire our arrows and then paint rings around them, and pretend we have hit the target -“…’cos I meant to do that all along!”

I was worried about being expectant for God to meet me in mission, even though I probably preach about the “missio dei” (God’s mission) and about being open and expectant from the Holy Spirit, disappointments had crusted over my heart like Lyme-scale in a kettle, but deep down within me was that ‘child-like faith’ that ‘voice of hope’ excited that God is going to do something wonderful.

I have discovered how debilitating disappointment can be, and how this limits our expectation of God. Over the past few months we have been meeting up on a Saturday morning to pray and share from all across the Churches (at 7:00 in the morning, I hate mornings!). Yet being with other believers praying and believing passionately that God is on the move, I felt something shift inside me and I was daring to dream again, I was praying passionately, but I had a few too many “yeah buts” going on in my head.

I have found the work in Kingswood so incredibly lonely, and yet feeling like part of a team of like-minded people has lifted my spirit.

Often when I have been in church and no one else is on the same page (possibly even a different book!) you begin to doubt yourself “Is it just me? Am I the only one who thinks this is important? why do we sing and pray for revival but not do anything to enable it to happen? And there is a wonderful ‘kinship’ in this, on Maundy Thursday worked with a retired guy in his 70’s, on Holy Saturday a young lad in his 20s, on Easter Monday took a team of people in their 50s out with me, yesterday I worked with a young mum and a fab older gent who a local Baptist Pastor, and today I got to work with my friend Jackie from Elim who (I’m guessing is around my age), we were also joined for a bit by a lady who has been through some very tough stuff and only been a Christian a short-time but she did a great job of opening up conversations too.

It was encouraging to see Christians from a variety of backgrounds, ages, Churches all unified together in the one thing -our Saviour Christ Jesus- than anything that divides us.

Very different people, but the same God, very different personalities which came through, but using the same script, yet  despite our differences we all had the one thing in common, God used us in sharing his amazing news with people.

I blogged in my previous blog about my worries about using a script and about my fears about talking to random members of the public that I didn’t know, and yet in stepping out the boat, leaving our comfort zone, God has been incredibly faithful and gracious to us and we have seen much fruit (500 people last week, and I’m not sure this week but probably in three figures by now!)

The fear of rejection, it’s not nice when you speak to people and they just walk past you as though you don’t exist, the occasional “**** off!” isn’t particularly pleasant either, but I have been really challenged about not letting the disappointments stop us, one lady went out with her son (possibly teenage?) who kept a count of the knock backs “that’s 18 rejections mum!” and yet on the 19th she led someone to Christ -what a star that lady was.

I wonder if I’d have had her wonderful tenacity to keep on going for the fruit of the 19th person getting saved? I often mention Jackie Pullinger who spent 7 years in the gang-land ruled ‘walled city’ of China before she saw her first convert but then after that came break through after break through. I wonder if that was me I wonder if I’d have lasted 7 months?

I also began to feel the danger of comparisons, one morning they got those of us who had been out before to line up and be team leaders, and those who hadn’t done it before could come and join us, and instantly in my head and my heart I was back in school when the ‘cool kids’ were being picked for the football side and I ended up praying that someone would pick me and that I wouldn’t be left until last.

At times in my life I have often wished I was more “gregarious”, “quicker witted”, “more charming”, “better theologian & apologist”, more gravitas and many more things too… I know I have a fake idea of what the perfect evangelist should be made up of components of other evangelists -with perfect teeth- I have known.

Yet he problem with comparisons we often run someone else’s highlight reel with our blooper reel, and actually make it about us and not God at work through us.

I remember someone talking to me and said they didn’t feel qualified (exact words!) to share their faith, and a friend of mine said “If you love Jesus and you have a pulse then you are qualified -amply qualified!”

This week my friend Rich said something incredibly wise when he was leading a bit of the training he said “even if you just tell someone that “God loves them and has an awesome plan for your life!” -you have done more good than if you’d stayed at home watching day-time telly.

This is something that never ceases to humble and astound me that God chooses to work through ordinary people like you and me for his glory and Kingdom advancement.

One of things I have found most exciting) is that we have trained up probably about 200 ordinary (which is the wrong word, but you know what I mean!) Christians to be able to share their faith simply but effectively with those around them.

If we can chat to strangers on the street about Jesus maybe we can chat to neighbours, friends, colleagues and family members too? It made me wonder how many sermons I’ve heard on the need for evangelism (which probably has made everyone feel guilty) and how few on some helpful tools, useful tips and practical stuff to help us actually do it (very few).

I saw ‘big Al’ one of our wonderful friends lead a couple of guys who come to our Soul Cafe project to a prayer of commitment on Sunday, on Monday we heard a story of a guy leading a work colleague to Christ, another guy led someone to Christ in our Church Car Park, from an organised event to organic every-day life evangelistic overflow is what I dream of seeing happening more and more as just ordinary and normal part of our Christian life -it should just be what we do as part of our regular day to day lifestyle.

It has been wonderful to be part of thing Kingdom culture for this time, and yet the interruptions of the pettiness and over-stress of the trivial remind us of where we actually are as Churches, but something of this is a glimpse of the Kingdom, the pull of a different and better reality instep with God, the longing for moreness of what God has in store for us.

As we fellowship as a missionary community, united in love in Christ and his gospel, celebrating with joy hearing stories of Salvation, there is a challenge awaiting us, that of following people up well and seeing them not just become converts but becoming mature disciples in Christ.

I remember when we saw a lad we had met from the Streets become a Christian I was very excited and joyous, but a friend said solemnly “you realise that XXX becoming a Christian isn’t the end of something, this is the beginning, this is where the hard work starts!”

who is up for joining us in this new and exciting challenge?

 

 

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hope, Pain, Spiritual Health, Spirituality

Glitter in the Ash.

I’m a bit of touch sometimes!

I saw on Facebook today about Churches in the US putting glitter in the Ash as a symbol of their support of LGBT Community.

As a bit of an aside, I’m not sure why sparkly and LGBT are put together, seems a bit of a stereotype or caricature which doesn’t feel helpful? -but as a straight bloke I’m not wanting to tell another culture what it should (or shouldn’t) use as its symbols.

I began to think a bit deeper about the whole idea of Glitter and Ash.

Ash Wednesday is a time when we focus is on our sinfulness, our brokenness and our mortality, maybe in an superficial, individualistic and materialistic culture this service is incredibly counter cultural.

The phrase “Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust” is very much part of our national conscientiousness as part of the funeral service of burial after the coffin is lowered down into the grave.

In this Ashing ritual we say “remember that you are but dust and to dust you will return”, something profound and shocking about the starkness of these words, the certainty that we will all someday die.

This subject is something of a taboo, in a world where we can talk about Religion, Politics and Sex as much as we like, we find that death is one of the few subjects which remains something as a society we struggle to deal with.

We live in a world obsessed by youth, beauty and vitality and reminder of death and decay is profoundly challenging.

Death makes us think about life.

What are we building in life?

What will remain when we have gone?

Have we in our lives built with Gold, Silver or Costly stones or have built with that which is perishable that will be burned up as dross… So much of what we think of as important -even in our Churches- has no lasting eternal value.

Sometimes we need to be confronted with tough and challenging truths, such as our own mortality, yet, I believe that this is only half the story, for the Christian death is not the final word.

Scripture reminds us that death does not have the final word “where O death is your sting?”

We do have the pain of death, we are in a world that is fallen, we are people who are broken, and yet we are not without Hope.

Hope glistens like diamonds in the dust (as described by Jonni Erekson Tada)

I don’t think glitter in the ash trivialises the ceremony but rather is a corrective, just as the ash is biodegradable the glitter isn’t, for the Christian the hope of Christ is steadfast and certain, stronger than the grave.

We are not defined by our fallen-ness, although we are fallen people, but the cross say we are also people made Holy and declared righteousness.

We may die, but we will also live forever.

Light cannot be put out by darkness.

Even in the darkest of situation, even in the bleakest moments, the glory of God is able to break in, often easily missed as we sadly too often focus the brokenness, rather than the glistening glimpses of the Kingdom.

Justin Welby talks movingly about the death of his daughter, and although clearly incredibly painful, he say that in the midst of his pain he sensed the love of Christ.

Corrie Ten Boom talks of her horrific time in a concentration camp and yet even in one of the most hellish places on earth she still saw with the eyes of faith signs of the Kingdom of God at work.

Too often we fail to talk seriously about the challenges of life, and pain, death and judgement, we don’t talk enough of fallen-ness or brokenness. Yet today I feel as we talk about such things we need to talk too about resurrection, healing, freedom, forgiveness, life, restoration, redemption and joy.

Today is not a day for despair.

That as we journey to the cross of Christ, and although we don’t want to rush to quickly past the cross, we know that this is not the end -but the beginning- of the story we are and remain people of the resurrection.

That said, our baptism speaks of dying to self, of our past being crucified with Christ, dead to our old ways of life in sin, but in Baptism we rise from the water symbolising both our death and our rebirth.

In our world, we see much darkness all around us, and I worry that sometimes Ash Wednesday Services reinforce our brokenness and our mortality in a crushing way, yet perhaps without trivialising the deep and profound truth of sin, death and judgement we also hint at freedom and forgiveness, resurrection, rescue and redemption.

So, I’d say put the glitter into the pile of ash, remind the world that not only do we embrace the painful truths of the human condition, we also have something that is not biodegradable but eternal, something wonderful that gleams even when everything looks bleak.

That ultimately the last word and the eternal word is not a word of despair but one of goodness and hope.

The first and the last word is Jesus.

And although the truth of Jesus can be deeply challenging to our world view and painful to our pride, he remains eternally and incorruptibly good news for all.

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Fear, hope, Politica

Presidents Obama and Trump, Hope or Fear?

One thing really struck me with the Inauguration of President Donald Trump, was the difference between himself and President Barak Obama.

Barak Obama’s final speech as president was one that could have been summed up by one word “HOPE” -in fact “HOPE” has characterised both his presidency and him as a person, his autobiography was called “The Audacity of HOPE”.

Yet much of Donald’s Trump’s campaign was summed up by one word “FEAR”.

Former Bristol MP said: “Hope is the fuel of progress and fear is the prison you put yourself”.

A similar sentiment from the film Shawshank Redemption “Fear hold you prisoner, but Hope can set you free”.

As I thought of this image it made me realise that the toughest prisons aren’t those with bricks or bars but the icy strongholds in peoples’ hearts and minds.

This prison though is one that many can be swept into, we have all been in meetings when a fear-monger has turned the mood of a room or a decision of a meeting; yet too the reverse can happen, people can be liberated by the freedom that Hope brings, a person of hope-filled faith can inspire people to stand and to step out.

A poem about Hope : –  “Rosa (Parks) sat, so that Martin (Luther King Jr) could walk, Martin walked, so that Barak (Obama) could stand, Barak stood so all our children could fly”. Hope is aspirational. Hope re-writes a new future, where-as fear if often a pessimistic self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I thought about my life, I asked myself the question, “is my life ruled by Hope or Fear?”

I want it to be ruled by Hope, yet sadly more often than I want I am ruled by fear.

“It is so easy to break down and destroy, but heroes are the ones who make peace and build” said former South African President Nelson Mandela.

The fictional President Matt Santos from the West Wing said “It is easier to throw stones at a house than to try and build one”.

Fear paralyses and keeps people rooted to the spot like a rabbit caught in the car headlights.

Fear divides.

Hope unites.

Fear builds walls.

Hope builds bridges.

Hope causes us to lay down our weapons, whereas Fear causes us to blame, lash out and pick up our weapons.

For the Christian Hope is not a “wishful thinking naïve aspiration that somehow everything is going to be alright in the end”, no we have a “hope that does not disappoint us”, “our hope is in the Lord who made heaven and earth” -it is a hope that “moths and rust cannot destroy” but rather is based not on a vague idea or concept but on a person, Jesus Christ, described by Peter as our “Living Hope” -our hope is in the resurrected and victorious son of God.

Our hope is that the God “who began a good work will see it through to completion”.

Our hope is that “he that is within us is greater than he that is in the world”.

Our hope is in Christ who said “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against them”.

Yet how do we be people filled with Hope and not Fear?

Often we start full of hope, but the stress, strains and pains of the world can often leave us feeling jaded, cynical, deafest, we too often let hope slip away, evaporate, and fear creep in and slowly take root, and become a spiritual stronghold.

We often don’t talk about being controlled by fear, but rather we use expressions like being “pragmatic” or “realistic” or “worldly wise” -often we allow ourselves to be often somewhat superior and patronising to those pursuing a message of hope, painting them as naïve and dismissing their view as “youthful enthusiasm”.

So, how do we keep Hope alive within us?

Prayer is the antidote to defeatism, as our focus leaves the size of our problem and places our viewpoint on the size of our God.

Interestingly those who are most vocally defeatist/negative are also those who attend prayer meetings the least, I do believe that this is not a coincidence.

So, let us be Obama’s not Trump’s, people of Hope, not people of Fear.

And I’ll close with a prayer Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome:


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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faithfulness, Fruit and fruitfulness, Giving/Generousity., grace, hope, justice, Kingdom, Politica

Jesus for President.

Jesus for President, was the title of a book by one of my heroes Shane Claiborne, the title made me think, firstly I thought Jesus never wanted to be president, he was offered all the Kingdoms of the world when he was tempted by the devil, and yet he turned it down.

Instead Jesus was a nomadic preacher, with nowhere to lay his head, former child refugee who advocated loving enemies, rather than clicking his fingers in the board-room he took a towel and washed his disciples feet, including the one, Judas, who betrayed him.

Yet Jesus is the one I want to follow, his Kingdom may appear upside down to most of the world but to me I think it is the right way up, and his Kingdom is what I want to devote my life to building. The Lord’s Prayer seeks for Gods Kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven” so clearly something of the rule and reign of God can be seen today in real lives and communities, not as some weird theocratic rule, but in hearts and minds transformed by God and living out their faith in radical Kingdom ‘salt and light’ living.

As I was thinking was does a Christian world view look like, I am often confronted by the phrase ‘Christian Values’  which is often condensed to anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage and whose rhetoric often sounds pretty un-Christ-like –God hates fags? No, of course he doesn’t, he loves each and every person he has made. and longs for all peoples to come into relationship with him.
More over much of the American Christian Right seems very pro guns, anti health care for the poor and pro death penalty and I struggle how we can link these heinous ideas with the Jesus I find in scripture.

Yet surely If we are called to have Christian values, if we really believe Jesus meant it when he called us to “love our neighbours as ourselves” then we are called to care about the welfare of the planet, foreign aid, education, justice, health care, civil liberties, community cohesion and ethical investment in economic policy.

A Biblical world view is about bringing people together rather than building walls between each other… The Old Testament repeatedly tells Gods people not to I’ll treat the alien who resides in their country because they themselves were slaves in Egypt.

A Biblical world view talks about sharing our wealth with the poorest and most marginalised, the parable of the Good Samaritan works for nations too, and we need to heed the words of scripture that says “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

A Biblical world view is one that is outward looking and not inward looking, “I am my brothers keeper”, inward looking ideals end in implosion.

A Biblical world view realises that “the love of money is the root of all evil” and realises that financial prosperity and true happiness are not bedfellows.

A Biblical world view sees us from every nation as Gods children and extreme nationalism seems to me like a idol or fake God than needs to bow the knee to Christ, an illusion that hoodwinks many people.

A Biblical world view sees enemies being loved, the other cheek turned and the myth of redemptive violence seen for the lie that it is… As Ghandi said “if we take an eye for an eye then the world we be blind”. When we think of Christ entering into the city he came on a donkey like the ones we see at Weston, not on a war horse or sitting on an amounted vehicle or tank, this Prince is called the Prince of Peace, and at fulfilment of his Kingdom will see swords turned in ploughs and people practicing war no more.

A Biblical world view effects how we see one another who made in the image of God, can we imagine Jesus calling a woman –or anyone for that matter-  a “fat pig”? In fact, as Christians we are called to fight for human dignity “to bless not curse”, we need to see the rest of the world as precious to God, whether they be a Mexican refugee, a community leader in Iraq or someone who has a different opinion to you.

When I think of Jesus for President, I think the reason why I follow him is I can trust him, “let your yes be yes and your no be no”, when Jesus speaks we know it is the word of truth.

Sadly in the American election the major parties seemed less interested in their candidates character talking more of the competence or rely on their charisma, however “competence and charisma without character often results in Catastrophe”.

In a “Dog Eat Dog” world with people scrambling to be top dog we see Christ saying the last will be first.

My prayer for whoever is president is that they may “Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly before their God”… Knowing that with great power also comes great responsibility, the call to steward what you have been entrusted with well, knowing that are all answerable and must now the knee before Christ.

Leadership is costly and sacrificial… Jesus said that he had  not come “to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”.

This leader isn’t hidden away in a bunker with other soldiers fighting on his behalf, this King, this servant King, gave his life that we may live.

This Servant King I will follow, and his upside-down Kingdom I will devote my life to seek and advance.

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Brexit, Disappointment, hope, Politica

The Morning after…

This morning I’m trying to work out what I feel this morning is a strange feeling.

It is a step into the unknown, it is a time of change.
Some might feel worried, others jubilant, possible others a mixture of the two.
Actually at the moment, I’m slightly stunned by the result…
Reminded a little of ’92 when my generation realised the power of the vote to change things, when most of us who were too young to remember any other government, saw the Tories out of office… that felt like a new era of hope, but this feels very different.
Today I just feel a bit sombre.
As I reflect back on the campaign, it was one filled with scaremongering from both sides, misrepresenting other peoples’ points of view, some shameful scapegoating and I think it has shown just how polarised our society is, particularly it has made us more aware of how disenfranchised many people feel in our society. (At least whatever your political views I think people have been reminded that voting actually really matters, and for many this was the first time many people who feel very disenfranchised engaged in the democratic process).
I think the question is not now whether we leave or remain, -after all the vote has happened- but how best we can build/rebuild this nation to be better than it is now… The debate now is how does this look? How do we do we do it?
It may meaning enter into conversations with people whose view point we struggle with and finding common ground with ‘the other’?
To me the big two questions we face as Christians is how can we see the most disenfranchised, normally seen as labour voters who clearly feel that no one speaks for them be heard and seek to bless, love and proclaim authentic hope (not just warm sloppy platitudes) and build real relationship s in these communities (often when the Church seems to too often struggle).
Alongside the question, how can we be people who oppose the horrific scapegoating of the refugees, asylum seeker and migrants. How we can genuinely see community cohesion rather than trying to pretend that there aren’t problems here? How can we be real about struggles without resulting to knee jerk reactions and scapegoating of minorities.
How do we move forward with a vote that needs to be respected, but half the population wished hadn’t happened.
As Christians, the gospel of Christ is  a bigger and greater story of hope, of love, of unity and embracing rather than rejection, a message so transformational that has the power to silence the deeply disturbing voice of the right and far right with a vision of humanity coming together in loving community seeking the best for our neighbours? This big story is the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of heaven as it is sometimes called. The Lord’s Prayer urges us to seek Gods Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, the call that is in no way altered by results of referendum, in fact let this result and living in changing times be the spur to go deeper to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before our God”.
And as we think of this challenge within the UK, we realise this is a challenge for us to work out what it means afresh to be loving neighbours advocating justice, compassion and hope to not just those within Europe but actually want it means afresh to be a global citizen.
As we talk about now about trade, I hope too that we also talk about trade ethics, do we continue to hold fast to the rights for workers that was advanced and influenced by the EU for workers in the UK? But do we ask the more thorny issue of universal workers rights for everyone we trade we, as surely a Indian or Chinese life is worth as much as that of a European, as I believe there is only one race, the human race, all made in the image of God. As we try to put the parable of the Good Samaritan into practice as we seek to be good world neighbours acting with compassion for the weak and fighting for justice against the powerful and exploitative.
You might read this and think, I can do anything to support this as I’m not a politician or a leader in big business… Yet we fall for the lie that as people we can’t make a difference, we believe that we can only play it small.
In the West Wing President Bartlett quotes Margaret Mead saying “never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world, for, in truth it is all that ever have”, and although this is undoubtedly true, we have a greater truth of “he (Christ) that is within us is greater than he that is in the world”… “The same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead (is active in you and your life)”…  The power of the global Church, filled with the Spirit of God, has option to stop fighting amongst itself and look out and transform the world for the glory of Christ and the salvation and good of its inhabitants.
Yesterday at our third outing of school pastors Jackie shared the call to “be bold” in speaking of Christ (she had led a number of people to Christ recently) but believe her words are larger than just the context of evangelism but rather true for the mission of God in his world…
At times of transition we need to be Christians that step up to the plate and echo the words of Isaiah “here I am send me”.
Irrespective of how we voted, the challenge to build a better world for Christ’s glory and for the sake of our children and grandchildren remains, for some the mountain may feel it has got higher, yet lets not the size of the task daunt us, let us remember the size of the God we serve and his saving and equipping power.
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