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.

John12:23-33
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!




Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Fear And Faith And The Atheist Prayer Experiment

I wasn't initially going to watch the 2nd part of Derren Brown's Fear And Faith series, because, I suppose, I didn't want to watch an atheist explain God away as a 'placebo'.  But curiosity got the better of me and I have now watched it.  It was in no way as offencive as I had feared it might be, in fact it was very interesting and proved again that Derren is a master manipulator of suggestion to the human mind.

The atheist he 'converted' wasn't looking for anything missing in her life, and all she described was an overwhelming emotion of love, this had been brought about, as Derren explained afterwards, by his tapping at certain points in the conversation to make a connection of all the correct emotions at the end when he left her and made his final tap.

Correctly he assimilated some faith conversions to an overwhelming emotion and hyped up activity, such as were seen in the Billy Graham meetings a few decades ago.

I was listening to the Unbelievable pod cast recently, they were reviewing their Atheist Prayer Experiment in which they had asked Atheists to pray daily for God to reveal himself to them and to report back anything which they had considered a sign or a reveal from God.



A couple of ladies had described their experience of a Rainbow they had seen during the experiment. This didn't lead them on to become full blown Christian believers in God, but they thought it was a sign to them during the time of the experiment.

The point is everyone's experience is unique to them, whether it is attributed to God or suggestion from a person or group, it is unique to you.  What we as individuals have to decide is, what we are going to do as a follow on from that experience.

On the Derren Brown programme, the atheist said she 'wished she could have known about that love sooner, why couldn't she always have felt like that?' although the trigger to that overwhelming emotion was planted by Derren, if she does want to investigate finding that feeling again further and chooses to go down the God route to do it, she may well find God for real; or she may choose to look for it elsewhere in relationships or material things.

With the atheists in the Unbelievable experiment, they are left mulling over what they understood to be a sign as a result of their prayers to ask God to reveal himself.  They can either just put it down to a phenomenon that they don't quite understand and forget about it and move on, or perhaps they can continue with their prayers for God's revelation and take their quest to find him a step further.

Derren concluded his programme with the thought "if you believe in god, it's probably because it makes you feel happy."

I think any Christian will tell you it is so much more than happiness that our belief brings us, it is forgiveness, it is eternal existence with God in Heaven, it is peace.......

Have you had an overwhelming 'Religious' experience? Or encountered God in an unexpected circumstance?

Monday, 19 November 2012

What Decade Are Asda Living In?!

So the Christmas ad's have started and apparently we won't actually be able to have a Christmas without John Lewis, Iceland and according to Asda, Mum's! 

We saw this ad last night and my husband was shocked, no, appalled, no, offended, no, outraged, oh you get the idea!




The fact is, many of our past Christmas' have been produced entirely by him, not because he's some sort of secret elf, but because basically, sometimes, I just can't be arsed; but Christmas has to happen when you've got kids, so happen it does, but never ever solely with me in control of it! 

And we are certain in this day and age, when among many of our friends it is the blokes who do most of the cooking, men have been spotted on school runs, they organise party's etc.....we don't think it's just us who think this ad is patronisingly sexist!

Newsflash Asda, it's not the 1950's anymore! Men and Women are capable of holding down full time jobs and running a household jointly.

Who 'does' Christmas in your house?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

What If I Can't Be A Mum Anymore?

I started writing this blog because I was searching for answers, not just Biblical answers but personal, real life answers, which I found in some of the blogs I now follow.  I got my head together a little and wondered if I could do the same; write a little about some of my experiences for some other soul out there googling the web for answers!

What I am about to confess may shock or offend some people, but if you are someone who feels the way I did a couple of years ago it may help you, and that is all that I pray for.

I was following a thread on twitter recently, where some chaps had been comparing getting up early with their young families since the clocks had changed and a young lady had chimed in to 'spare a thought for those who don't have families'.  Whilst I thought this was a far point (and so did the blokes) I tweeted something thoughtless back, about how I was sure the blokes knew they were blessed and to basically 'lighten up' (I didn't exactly say that, but that was the gist) and one of the blokes and the lady basically got offended by my butting in and passing comment on her lonely situation, I apologised and I hope all was left well.

The truth is, what I actually wanted to tweet couldn't be said in 140 characters, hence this blog post, which I have mulled over and am still not sure about. 

You see as much as I feel for (as I'm sure we all do) childless people for whatever reason they are in that boat, there was a point when I wanted sympathy as a parent.

Every person out there with kids, who knows someone who hasn't yet been able to have kids, has probably expressed their disappointment for them - and that is right; I cannot imagine how it must feel if the most natural progression in life is not possible for you. 

But what about those of us who have had kids? No-one would ever say to us, "it's just awful for you. Don't you regret having them? I'm so sorry you've found yourself in this situation of having a family."  Of course they wouldn't and 99% of the time if anyone did express that to a parent they would quite rightly get an earful - if not a face full, of fist!

But my confession is, a couple of years ago I found being a parent almost unbearable; it was nothing to do with my kids; they are wonderful children who have not given me any more grief than any other average family.  It was my depression.

My state of mind was telling me I was failing as a mother, that I couldn't look after them, I couldn't handle the responsibility, which overwhelmed me with guilt for having them in the first place, but how can you tell someone you wished you weren't a parent?  

Of course I know the situation is different, I was ill and my mind wasn't in it's right frame (it very rarely is!) but nevertheless, as much as a childless person longs for a child, I longed to be free of that responsibility. I feared they would 'inherit' my anxieties, I feared constantly I was letting them down, but worst of all they were controlling me. I wanted to leave this world but I couldn't, because my fears of them growing up, screwed up, because I had chosen to leave them, was also too much to bear, they had a hold on me, how dare they!

Can you imagine the backlash if you tweeted 'spare a thought for those of us that have kids :(' and not in a light-hearted sarcastic way, but in a, I mean this, I want out, way?

My very close friend and my husband and others were able to tell me I was a fantastic Mother, that the kids needed me and loved me and I was important to them, but I liken it to the countless people who must tell an anorexic person that they look beautiful - when they look in the mirror that is not what they see.

The sad thing is for me, when I am on form and feeling good, I know I am a damn good Mum, my teenage sons friends think I'm a legend for goodness sake, I'm fun-mum!

I guess I just want to put out there that sometimes parents who have been blessed with the most wonderful kids can end up in a dark place where they wonder the unthinkable, what it might have been like to have been blessed with being childless. 

Going back to the 'tweet', the sum up is probably, rather than asking others to kindly please consider your situation and how awful it is for you, consider yourself that it actually might be a situation they are yearning for. Accept your lot, learn to live with it, fight through it, get counsel over it, whatever it takes to get you to accept that it is yours.

I am pleased to say I am in a much better place now than I was a couple of years ago.  Of course in reality I would never change anything about my children, like I said, it was an illness taking hold, but I did have to fight through it and get help to accept that I could cope with being a parent, but if any parent out there is feeling like they just can't do it anymore, you are not alone and if you find the courage in you to tell someone, no matter how wrong that may seem, you can get through it.  

I found when I was able to tell someone just how scared I felt and how I couldn't do it anymore that was one of the first moves to helping me feel better. 

Psalm 40:2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

NaNoWriMo!

I'm taking part in National Novel Writing Month! 

First time I've done it and I only became aware of it last November  but basically you get down 50,000 words during the month of November and hey presto you're a novelist!

Whenever I've tried to write a book before it's always ended up too biographical even if it's intended to be fiction, and I abandon through fear!

So I approached NaNoWriMo from a different angle and made sure it wasn't the story of me!

I had become stumped with my main character who is a man of mystery, but this morning I had  a breakthrough - actually thanks to something that came up in homegroup last night, so now I know exactly how the next bit is going to go!

It's been quite exciting actually and it's all for a bit of fun, not to become the next JK Rowling, but just to get a good chunk of work down that who knows one day might be interesting for someone else to read!

Any other bloggers out there taking part?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Would You Let Your Child Attend A Seance?

It's that time of year again, the nights are darker, the temperature cooler, the leaves orangerer......and everyone turns American and goes mad for Pumpkin Pie! Harmless fun? A bit of dressing up and apple bobbing probably never hurt anyone, but a séance aimed at primary school children?!!!

This is what is planned to happen in our town on Wednesday at our local community centre, a quote from our local paper says 

"The community centre will be transformed into a haunted house for Hallowe'en, complete with poltergeists and other-worldly creatures.  The bravest visitors will even get to conjure up spirits at a séance. The haunted house is aimed at primary school children."

Excuse me? Have you taken leave of your senses Mr/Mrs Community organiser person? At what point is it appropriate for 4-11 year olds to be offered the option of taking part in a séance? They may well miss Flopsy bunny who didn't quite make it through last Winter or wish they had just one more chance to tell Great Granny how lovely her kisses were, but no, you do not put on a séance at Hallowe'en for kids!

You may well be thinking, 'it's not real, it's all a load of rubbish anyway, it'll just be special effects to give the kids a spooky night'. That may well be the case and maybe I am unable to review the situation objectively.  As a Christian I believe in a good God and I am aware for me personally to take part in such activities would be wrong and dangerous, for if there is a God, there is surely a Devil, who likes nothing more than for us to believe he does not exist and is harmless.

Our town has been visited by the Devil already this year; back in February when our vicar was murdered. As the details are emerging in the same paper that has advertised the Halloween night, it becomes clearer to me that evil forces are prevalent in the world - even our town. John 8:44 tells us how Satan has been a murderer from the beginning and is the father of lies. Here is a quote from the Gazette about Stephen Farrow who is accused of the murder of our vicar John Suddards and retired teacher Betty Yates. 

"His mother had 'understood there to be something wrong with him as a child'. When he was ten, he set fire to a church altar and stood and watched as it burned.  He was expelled on his first day of school, shot dead a male swan with an air gun and killed other people's pets when they 'did his head in'."

Dr Rogers a consultant forensic psychiatrist says "it was not possible to be sure when Farrow was telling the truth and when he was lying."

Still not convinced the Devil exists? How about the JS case that surely everyone is disgusted with at the moment? 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us Satan disguises himself as an angel of light! That is almost a perfect description of JS, almost untouchable because of the fear he spread and at the same time a national treasure for his massive contributions to charity and children's entertainment!

So, if anyone in Thornbury is brave enough to take their children to the community centre séance, let's just pray they don't conjure up Jimmy Saville...........

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Now Then, Now Then, 'Ows About That Then........

"Why now? Why wait till he's dead?" That seems to be what most people are questioning over the JS revelations. (I can't bring myself to say his name). 

Perhaps because when he was alive the few who did come forward and tell of what had happened to them weren't believed, and let's face it, who would believe a young girl in the 70's against a family favourite tv presenter and multi million pound charity campaigner? Very clever.

But now as the belief rises that these girls/boys/ladies were abused, that gives hope and freedom to the others that they can also now release this burden that has been weighing them down for so long. It may not matter to them whether or not they can get justice, it is just important that they know when they speak out they will be believed and the blame can be removed from them.

When a young person is sexually approached by an adult, it leaves them in a state of confusion.        They are convinced they are to blame, somehow it is there fault and leaves them with such embarrassment and shame it makes it almost impossible to tell anyone. Such is the power an abuser has over their victim. And if there is the slightest hint they will not be believed they will not risk that embarrassment and shame of speaking out, and they will carry that intense feeling of guilt inside them until such time as they can speak out. For JS' victims it seems like that time is now

You may be thinking there's no point talking now because he can't be prosecuted, but there is every point. As soon as they are believed they can start to heal and be released from the guilt and shame that has lived with them.

Often abused people are unable to conceive 'love', unable to give it and feel unworthy to receive it; but God loves us, no matter what we may think of ourselves. Whatever we have been through in our past, whatever we may face in our future, nothing can separate us from God's perfect love for us.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.



Saturday, 6 October 2012

Coffee Mornings And Sin

When coffee and cake descends into a deep 
discussion on 'human nature and are we born sinful?', I know my friends are keepers!

This is what happened when our conversation about a particularly nasty crime that had happened in our town earlier in the year came up. Is the criminal demon possessed?  Is he mentally insane? Is he just wicked? What goes on to make people commit the most horrific crimes?



Some thoughts raised were 'are we actually born sinful or do we become sinful?' Can we call a one day old baby a sinner? I'm the first to admit I think babies are adorable and of course all my babies were 'perfect' at birth!

In Psalm 51:5 David says "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." David goes on to ask God to cleanse him and renew him.  If sin hadn't been in David from birth he wouldn't have gone on to commit adultery and murder. If sin is something that develops within our nature then there wouldn't have been a need for Jesus to die for us, because if we are not born sinful then surely we would have the potential to remain sinless? Thus removing the need for Jesus' sacrifice?

Which led onto 'Jesus was born human, so was he born with the potential to sin?' This is where you head starts to spin a bit and your host who has provided copious amounts of cake and coffee wonders what her morning of idle chit chat is descending into and tries to distract you with the latest John Lewis catalogue, but these questions need answering so on we go.

As a human, yes, Jesus was tempted; but he was also fully God so he was not capable of sin.  But if he couldn't sin, why tempt him if he can't give into it anyway?

Living as Christians we are to try to live as Jesus did, to follow his examples, although he could not and did not give in to temptation of sin, he knew how it felt as a human to suffer and be humiliated and tempted, just as we do.  God being human in the form of Jesus can sympathise with us when we are tempted.  We can be encouraged in our faith knowing that Jesus faced the same temptations as us but did not give into them. Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin."

I don't know if we really got to the bottom of what makes a man commit such bad offences but it certainly engaged the brain.  We also shared our thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of what we thought heaven may be like........but that's a whole other post.  More cake anyone?

Friday, 21 September 2012

How Did We Make It To Twenty?

"Looks like we made it, look how far we've come my baby!" Or something like that! 

We've just passed our 20th Wedding Anniversary and I think it's fair to say that for the last few years every time it's come around I have thought 'didn't think we'd make it to this one'. But we made it to 20, so we felt that deserved a reward of a little break away.

My parents came up to look after the children, and as they went on their way this morning my Dad said "I can assure you the second 20 years is easier than the first" which we both heaved a huge sigh of relief at!

And I think now we're back in the place where I pray I won't be surprised next year to make it to 21! We're working hard at it and I'm sure if you're married you know what I'm talking about.  I'm not naive enough to think no-one else has faced struggles like us.  We got married young, I probably did it for the wrong reasons, I didn't envisage marriage was going to include loss, betrayal, anger, deceit and not only one way - we have both experienced this.

But it has also included blessings, happiness, laughter and commitment, and I have come to realise over the last few months, I think we can do this, I think we can learn, I think we can forgive and say sorry; and what's more important than thinking we can do it, is I think we should do it.

There have always been three people in our marriage, and I don't mean in a Charles, Diana, Camilla way. God has been with us and in the last few years He has been very much invited into our marriage by both of us, we depend on each other, but we depend on Him even more and I think we both feel that God has been the third strand in the rope keeping us together.

"Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Eccl 4:12



Friday, 7 September 2012

What Will Be Your Next Facebook Status?

Disclaimer: "The following status' are not necessarily about me or my family. If they bare any resemblance to you or your family this was not intended to cause harm or embarrassment"

True Status: "My kids are annoying little brats who constantly wind me up."
Actual Status: "Just had a lovely family afternoon with my wonderful children."


True Status: "My husband & I barely talk and certainly don't have regular sex."
Actual Status: "Can't wait for my lovely husband to come home from work, 8 hours is too long to be parted from him."

If you use Facebook, which I suspect if you read blogs you do; you have probably read status' similar to the 'actual' ones above, when we all know the reality is probably nearer the 'true' status. You have probably even posted a status in order to show to everyone else that you have a near perfect marriage and children - I know I have.

When things are going good we want everyone to know what a wonderful time we've had, how little Jonny is just such a darling and loves his sister so much and nothing is too much trouble for our spouse. And d'you know what? There's nothing wrong with that, we should celebrate our ability to have raised half decent kids and stayed married for x no. of years. But when does it lose it's reality or interest to others?

I have written many status' and then deleted them straight away, after thinking, why do I want to air that? What is my motive? Am I looking for sympathy, attention, help.......

Then there are the 'awareness' status' which finishes with "99% of people won't re-post this, but I know my true friends who care about people dying from in-growing toenails will"

Well sorry, but no, I won't re-post that.  Not because I don't care about dangerous fungal toe growth, but because you have insinuated I may not care when I do, I really do.

Here comes the God angle. Are we trying to only show God our best bits, do we think we can hide the harsh words, the wrong thoughts, the bad behaviour from Him? I think in truth we all know that we can't. God has seen every snapshot of our lives from every angle. He knows every thought we have tried to delete. And when we have assured ourselves and our friends our life is perfect, He can see beyond that and knows the reality of every situation.

This shouldn't make us feel scared or worthless, on the contrary we should be thankful for the fact that our God knows every inch of our lives and still loves us. He has forgiven us for the times we have lied to cover up the mess we've made, and He loves us for times we have forgiven others for doing the same thing.

So next time you talk to God, be honest. Let Him know the true 'status' of your situation.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Battle Between Good and Evil Continues......At a Steps Concert!

I was a willing participant in a social experiment last Sunday. 'Can a die-hard guitar based rock fan enjoy a cheesy pop concert?'


I accompanied my 16 year old daughter to see Steps, I had refused to go earlier in the year and she couldn't find anyone else to go with (no surprise there), so when they were playing quite near to us I gave in and agreed to go.


I have to say, it was a great night, not least because my daughter and I had a fantastic laugh and did a lot of dancing! 


But because there were a few concert 'firsts' for me.  It was at the Arboretum organised by the Forestry Commission, the idea is you take your deckchairs and picnics and sit and take in the concert as the Sun goes down - beautiful.  


And if I had gone to see Alfie Boe the night before, I probably would have stayed in my deckchair.  But this was my daughter's first concert and I owed it to her to initiate her properly; so we ate our picnic while the first support act was on, then legged it to the front to watch the show in the standing area!  


The first act was a singer from the Ukraine, who had limited speaking English, but she sang in almost perfect English - strange that.  What was particularly funny was when she asked the crowd "are you having a good time?" you know the drill: crowd cheer, act says "I can't hear you" and you cheer louder. Well, bless her, she got her English a bit muddled and every time she got a little cheer she said in a broad Ukrainian accent  "I deedn't leesen" to which I looked at my daughter and said "well that's not our fault"


Once she was out of the way we abandoned our picnic rug and bags and headed down to the mosh pit - I mean standing area, to see Bjorn Again an Abba tribute act, who were fantastic, really good fun and  a lot of dancing!


Now, I've been to a fair few concerts, most of them quite grungy where the crowd is 90% long hair and tattoos, and that's just the women. But I've never seen a fight break out and 10 security guards enter the crowd and eject a crowd member - until Steps! What's that all about?! And does it say something about me, that I would expect it at a 'rock' gig but not a 'pop' one?




What I actually want this post to be about (if you're still with me!) is this picture I took of a lady in the crowd.  She has a crucifix tattooed on her back and is wearing Devil horns! Is that what you call ironic? And I wondered which she thought was least significant. The cross or the horns? 


Does the cross mean anything to her personally? Or has it become a fashionable symbol in which the wearer is unaware of the story behind it. Does she really want to represent the Devil? Or again have they just become another bad taste fashion item? I suspect the latter with the horns because lots were wearing them.


I had no idea Steps were Satanic or I wouldn't have gone and would instead have been sat at home insisting my daughter burn her cd's...........I still may insist on that.


Thursday, 5 July 2012

Higgs Boson, Here Comes The Sciency Bit

Please bear with me on this post, as I am a mere non-scientist attempting to comment on the Higgs Boson discovery.


The way I understand it is: Scientists have spent billions of pounds on a piece of equipment called a Hadrom collider to look for a particle called the Higgs Boson in order to discover how the universe was fabricated; how from empty space we get the universe and us.  The search started in 1964 nearly 50 years ago, so either they weren't looking very well or this is a particularly elusive particle.


It's good they've had a nice project to keep them going, but they really needn't have bothered. You see, a lot of us already know how the universe was formed from empty space, and how we came into being.  There really is no search party required, no billion pound piece of equipment, and we've made no secret of it, the information is there for all to read in Genesis 1

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said "Let there be light" and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day' and the darkness he called 'night'.  And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.


etc. etc. until after 6 days you have a complete universe with humans and animals and plants and everything. Simple. 

Simple that is if you actually believe God exists.  If you don't I suppose you're back to your billion pound particle search.  It seems to me though, assuming God doesn't exist, if it has taken us all this time and money to collide photons together in a massively complicated and expensive piece of equipment, that has been co-ordinated by some of the most brilliant minds on the planet over the last half century........How did this Higgs Boson manage to co-ordinate itself into colliding with the right particles, at the right time over 6000 years (or billions of years) ago in order to create mass which evolved into a living breathing universe? That blows my mind! I refer you back to my first sentence in which I excuse myself as a mere non-scientist, if that is something that seems completely reasonable to everyone else!

I think it is a massive faith that agrees particles colliding formed mass which made our beautiful, living, breathing, thinking universe. Far far more faith than to accept the account in Genesis 1.  Genesis leaves us with no mystery to solve, no missing pieces to search for, just the re-telling of how the God who loves us made this world, made us in His image, in His living, breathing, thinking, image. He even explains that's what He's done! We think because we are like Him, we have beauty because we are like Him, we love because we are like Him! Can the Higgs Boson make the same claims? I think not.




Sunday, 1 July 2012

Whip out the Wordle

Enjoyed church this morning, aside from the always excellent sermon from one David Lawrence, I learnt of a new techy internety thing I had not come across before! Wordle's! 

No-one else seemed to know what they were and I must admit, I at first thought they were a band from the 70's who had a string of hits including 'I've got a brand new combine harvester'.

But no, a cool little website that takes any text you add and makes a pretty picture with the words and emphasises the most used one's.

So, have had a little play this afternoon, (as well as entertaining friends for afternoon tea in the garden) and quite like what it came up with.


It's an apologetics wordle!

I'm actually down to lead our home-group on Tuesday on the topic of 'introducing apologetics' and I'm actually quite nervous, but this says it all really, 'defense'! So, if all else fails on Tuesday and I'm floundering around for how to lead it, I'll just whip out the wordle!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Relevance Of Genesis For Today


Genesis, most people will immediately conjure up a scene of a talking snake, a poisonous apple and a naked couple. It sounds more like a fairy tale than the start of a book that we should be basing a faith on! But can we start to base our faith in the stories from the Bible when one of the first ones seems as far-fetched as this? Well this is of course just one of the stories, Genesis is one of the longest books in the old testament with 50 chapters and spans a time period of thousands of years so surely there must be something in there for us to make sense of today?



The people of Genesis

Adam & Eve were weak-willed, Cain was a murderer, Noah was a drunk, Abraham was selfish, Sarah was a liar, Jacob was deceitful……..the list could go on. These are not traits that are confined to history though. We can recognise these traits in ourselves and the best Christians among us today. But that doesn’t mean we have no worth in God’s kingdom.  These people were loved by God and some of them he used to begin the fulfilment of his eternal plan. Abraham and Sarah especially; Sarah had way passed her child-bearing age, but God’s promise was fulfilled and she bore a son Isaac. Abraham was told his people would be blessed with land it took 400 years for Abraham’s descendants to reach that land, led by Moses. Neither Abraham, Isaac, Jacob nor Moses made it into the Promised Land.
 

Can God use me?

God doesn't fulfil his plans through only the best qualified people; he chooses the people to fulfil his plans then qualifies them.  This may mean years of waiting patiently for us.  We may never see what God starts in us realised in our lifetimes but never the less if we are obedient to his call it can lead on to great things for our future generations that we may never know about in our human lifetime. Looking back on the characters God used in Genesis we can see very little difference in humanity today, the world is full of liar’s, cheat’s, drunk’s, murderer’s, but we are all God’s children, he has a purpose in mind for each one of us, with prayer and talking with other Christian’s and reading our Bibles we may be able to discern what that plan is.  Some of us may never even know the purposes we have begun to fulfil, it may be through our children that our work is completed, but be sure if God wants to use you, he will! And he will enable you to be used, so we shouldn’t feel like we aren’t worthy, capable, entitled etc. God is in control and what may seem impossible to us, is very possible to Him!

So, is it History, Story, Law, Theology?

History?

If we reject the historicity of the book of Genesis we reject the authority of the entire Bible. If Genesis is not true, we can’t trust the testimonies of those prophets and apostles who believed it was true. In the Old Testament, Adam is mentioned in Deuteronomy, Job, and 1 Chronicles. Noah is mentioned in 1 Chronicles, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. Genesis 1-11 is directly referred to in the New Testament, and each of the New Testament authors refers somewhere in his writings to Genesis 1-11.  These references are never alluded to as myths or allegories.
Genesis means "beginnings" or "origin," so God has had recorded for us the only reliable account of the origin of the universe, the solar system, the earth, the atmosphere, and the oceans, humanity, good, evil, language, law, culture and religion. So Genesis 1-11 is of such foundational importance to all history that without it there is no true understanding of us or our world. Comparing it to other Creation accounts such as the Babylonian Enuma Elish account, whereby many gods were argumentative and destructive and made man for their own purpose or the multiverse theory whereby we just happened to end up in the universe that had managed to at the right time combine all the right particles to create a universe such as this; I think the account we have in Genesis is clear and concise and makes sense of the world we know and live in today.
Story?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
There are certainly many great stories in Genesis that make the characters come to life for us, mapping out their backgrounds and their ancestry. Following their complicated plots with the exciting twists and turns; it certainly makes it an easier book to read, but does this make it look like a work of pure fiction? If Genesis were purely a story, would the writer have gone to such lengths to have recorded the genealogies of Adam, Noah, Shem, Ishmael, Jacob, Esau etc? These genealogies help to back up the history of the first book of the Bible.  Again as with the first 11 chapters, the remaining chapters of Genesis get a mention in the New Testament.  Paul and James both quote Genesis 15:6(NIV) “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” In Acts Stephen’s speaks of when God first called Abraham in Mesopotamia to Jacobs’s burial in Canaan in the tomb purchased by Abraham for his ancestors. So the New Church leaders were recounting the stories of the original patriarchs of Christianity.
Law?                                                                                                                                                                                           
It would be difficult to categorise Genesis as law. The 10 commandments didn’t come until Exodus 20. However the Hebrew word ‘torah’ conventionally translated as ‘law’ derives from the verb ‘yarah’ to ‘teach’ or ‘instruct’. And Genesis is full of teaching and instructions! It gives us examples of behaviour that should be imitated, such as Abraham’s faith; and mistakes that should be avoided such as Cain’s anger and bad attitude.
Theology?                                                                                                                                                                                         
God is making it clear to us throughout Genesis, that he had a plan for humanity and the world from the off. He loves us to the point of sacrifice. He shows grace in punishment to us. He is fair and just and merciful. Above all He wants to interact with us, He is interested in us, and we are His children. Parts of Genesis anthropomorphise God enabling us to really understand how He feels when we please Him or anger Him, so to study Genesis theologically we can really get to know God our Creator, our Father and our Saviour.