Archive for the 'Faith' Category

05
Jun
13

Why I stopped blogging (and why I am starting again)!

A quick look at my blog shows you that I have been silent for some time. I stopped for a number of reasons but the main ones were.

1. I was unsure whether I was blogging to see what people thought. My gut feeling is that for blogging to be valuable it has to be beneficial to me.
2. I was beginning to be worried about what people thought about what I wrote. In many ways the blog is a space to develop my thinking and so at times I blog rather like thinking aloud.
3. I wanted to be sure it wasn’t simply a case of narcissism. Believing that I had something worth saying – listen to me I’m clever.

So why am I starting again?
1. It is a good way of processing ideas and helps me.
2. It offers a chance to connect with people I might not get to see too often and share what is going on with me.
3. It offers a good place for debate.

I can’t promise how often I will blog but will do it when it helps me

John

03
Jun
12

Remember your creator

I was recently asked to speak at a school leavers service. An audience comprising 17/18 year olds at the end of their school career and their parents and staff at the school. There were clearly people there with a range of understandings of faith. What I said was warmly received and as I have reflected on it, I feel sure that I pitched it right. The text of what I said is below. Since there were no visuals available I have just reproduced the text. Enjoy!

They came on boats of all shapes and sizes, leaving behind most of their possessions they had set off with their hearts full of hope. For many it was a difficult journey, cramped conditions, lack of food stormy seas. But they knew they were nearly there when they saw the statue in the harbour entrance of the river. That statue, a present from France symbolised a new world of great opportunity, and as they disembarked at Ellis island they knew that their adventure was only just beginning.

In January I spent a few days with the family in New York on holiday and visited the Statue of Liberty and the immigration centre at Ellis island. I was surprised at how small they were. But of course it was not their size that mattered – it was what they represented to those who had crossed the ocean for this amazing new world.

In many ways I am speaking today to a group of leavers who in a similar position. A new world of opportunity lies in front of you. Just like those who travelled across the Atlantic Ocean to America, you are about to enter a new world. What will you do with that opportunity?

Today we have had two readings from the Bible
The first is an old man looking back on his life
He has had everything you could dream of – success, fame, women, stuff. In his day he had it all. What does he say?

‘Remember your creator, fear God and keep his commandments.’
‘Remember your creator in the days of your youth’

King Solomon had everything and yet he realised that it was all nothing compared to knowing his creator.

The second is a young man at the peak of his popularity. Crowds follow him everywhere he goes. They hang on his every word and follow him e everywhere . What does he say?

‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?’

This man, Jesus ultimately died penniless and as a criminal but had more impact on the world than anyone who ever lived.

What will you do with the choices you have before you?
It may not seem like it but over the next few months you will have the opportunity to make choices that will potentially shape your whole future.
Who you are friends with? What you do with your leisure time?
These two pieces of wisdom are really significant pieces of advice to take account of?
Take time to consider the idea of a creator, take time to consider what is beyond the here and now

So as I have been given the chance to speak to you now what would I say?

1. Be yourself
Steve Jobs said . ‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.’
It’s so easy to waste time trying to emulate someone else when what you really need to be is you. After all when there is only one of something it’s precious, and only you can be you so that makes you valuable. God made you to be you – don’t waste time trying to be someone else.

2. Remember God
The world we live in is amazing. But it’s easy to rush by and miss what it has to offer. No-one ever says I wish I had spent more time at the office. So savour life and live it to the full.
Jesus said ‘I have come that you might have life, life in all it’s fullness (John 10:10).
Fullness of life comes when you remember your creator that’s what Solomon realised.

3. Make a difference
It was 31 August 1997. My youngest son came up to tell me because there was no children’s TV on that morning because Princess Diana has died in a car crash. A nation mourned publicly and retold and relived her life. It was a story of tragedy and pain – of someone who never really came to terms with herself, her status and how to make a difference in the world. On the same day someone else died. On any other day this would have made headlines but because of Diana, it went by almost unnoticed and I think that she would have been quite pleased at that. Mother Theresa spent most of her life living and working in the slums of Calcutta with those that nobody else thought mattered. Here we are 15 years after her death and the work she started continues and grows with over 4000 people working in the charitable order she began. She knew that it was worth investing in making a difference in the world.

So what will you do? Will you be yourself? Will you remember God? Will you make a difference?

I want to end with some words that have been credited to Mother Theresa. They were either on the wall of the orphanage she ran in Calcutta or on the wall of simple room where she lived in that same orphanage. They sum up what I would suggest is an alternative way to live that will mean you do those things I have mentioned.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
f you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway

03
Jun
12

Why I stopped blogging (and why I am starting again)!

A quick look at my blog shows you that I haven’t been here for a while. I stopped blogging for a number of reasons – the main ones being

1. I was unsure whether I was blogging to see if I was popular rather than for genuine reasons. I think for blogging to be worthwhile it has to benefit me

2. I was beginning to wonder more about what people thought about what i wrote rather than using it as a space to develop my thinking.

3. I wanted to be sure that this wasn’t simply a case of narcissism – look at me aren’t I clever

So why am i starting again?

1. It’s a good way of processing ideas – writing stuff down helps me do that.

2. It offers a chance to connect with people I might not see too often and dialogue about what I am thinking and what is going on

3. It’s a reasonable place to have some measure of debate

I can’t promise how often I will blog – just often enough to help me

John

12
Apr
11

pray for the persecuted – april 11

Reading Matthew 24 Highlighted Passage: 24:15-28

Jesus teaching here is some of his most chilling. For those of us who live comfortable lives it is hard to grasp their significance. Yet throughout history, people choosing to follow Jesus have faced persecution. Jesus here reminds us that the danger of being confortable is that we settle and forget that persecution is the normal state for believers

Spend time today praying for those you know where following Jesus means persecution

03
Apr
11

mustard seed faith – april 1

Apologies for the silence – internet not working

Reading: Matthew 17, Highlighted passage Mathew 17:14-20

Another tricky passage but again a reminder og our need to rely upon God. The disciples were unable to heal the boy. Why was that? Well Jesus berates them for their lack of faith. However the clue is in the image he uses. It’s not the amount of faith they have simply who they put their faith in

Who am I putting my faith in?

30
Mar
11

in or out of the boat? – march 28

Matthew 14, 22-33

An amazing and familiar story – but I find myself asking just one question; ‘How on earth did Peter have the courage to step out of the boat?’ Of all people he knew about water – he was a fisherman.

I wonder where have been the times in my life when I have been willing to step out of the boat? Or is it all too easy to stay in the boat – with what I know rather than trust that Jesus knows even better than me?

31
Jan
11

In the dark – reflections on Egypt 2

Its strange how travelling to other countries and meeting Christians shifts your perspective on world events. I was full of good intentions to blog about my experince in Egypt in November. Well moving house and Christmas seemed to get in the way. However nothing prepared me for the turmoil in Cairo over the last week or so. In fact while things began I was on facebook chat and posting thoughts and prayers to people I had met. So it came as a surprise when all of a sudden internet traffic just stopped.

As I have watched the news and listened to the radio I have found myself both understanding and frustrated. Pictures of people standing in a square that I have visited. The radio presenter talking about the streets of Cairo being empty of cars – they never were even at 2am! The idea that people don’t feel safe walking the streets – something I never felt in all my time in Cairo.

So how did my new friends respond to my concerns. ‘Don’t worry – we have a protector’ they said. As I spoke to them about the bombing on New Years Eve in Alexandria – one of them said: ‘God will use this to make sure that people think about the importance of trusting in him – it will bring good’.

Meanwhile I just feel lost and in the dark – so I pray and am reminded of some of the most famous words in the Bible. ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are with me’.