Archive for the 'Remembering' 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

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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

11
Sep
10

Reflections on 9/11 – 9 years on

9 September 2001 – the day the world changed….. or did it?

There is no doubt that the events of that day cast a shadow over the global community. Relationships between nations are often defined in the light of the perceived forces at work in the events of that day. For me personally there is a particular poignancy in the memory. I had just returned from a Scripture Union International Conference with representatives from all over the world. Worshipping with people from many nations was a reminder that God’s family is global and multi-cultural – not English or British not even Western.

So I watched the events unfold that afternoon (morning in the US) with a different perspoective – there were people staying with me who were a reminder of a previous cold war era – guests from the former Soviet Union and I knew people travelling back to North America. It was hard to believe what we were watching – it almost seemed like a movie rether than real life. It was strangely gripping but it was also horrifying – we watched people die.

Maybe on reflection the media dimension was one of the changes I was unaware of and yet seems really obvious now. In a ‘Big Brother’ world, the global events were watched on TV by millions. The global community was connected in a way that we hadn’t really understood. The place of the media in both reflecting and shaping us was illustrated in a unique way on that day.

In recent events that day has been in the headlines because some people simply want to interpret them in ways that divide people along simple religious lines – I can’t agree in such a simplistic analysis. I wasn’t personally affected directly by the events so don’t want to speak for those who were. However I do know that God calls those of us who are Christians to live lives that demonstrate his character – to shine as his lights in the dark world. I am sure that means caring for all of of humanity regardless of their background, nationality, social status or creed. I simply can’t label thoe who disagree with me as evil – whatever they do.

So how should I respond? When asked by the teacher of the law, What must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus refers him to the law itself and the teacher replies. The first commandement is this: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul, mind and strength. the second is like it ‘Love your neighbour as yourself”

That seems like a good place to start – I’ll let you know when I think I’ve managed that one – although it seems like it could take a lifetime! Maybe the world didn’t change – I just saw it differently and began to realise that most change has to begin in me.

08
Jan
10

Remembering

It was with a sense of deja vu that I drove up the A1 on the evening of January 7. The snow made everything look very different, but just under a year ago I covered much of the same journey after an SU staff meeting. No-one could have guessed what would happen next. Within 15 minutes of being home, my wife Jackie had a brain haemorrhage. After a roller coaster ride where we were told she would not survive she is currently settled in a superb nursing home having suffered sugnificant brain damage in the days that followed.

The rest of life has been put into perspective throughout 2009, but in the midst of it all, I have learned that God can be trusted even when everything else seems uncertain. I have seen his hand at work through other people and been aware of being supported by others.

Part of that remembering has been thinking about the people who have been significant in my own faith development and giving thanks to God for them. The biggest issue that God’s peoiple seemed to face was they had this amazing ability to forget! They regularly forgot
a) Who they were – God’s treasured possession
b) What God had done for them? – in history through generations
c) How God had provided for them in the present

As I look ahead to 2010, I find myself wanting to be someone who remembers these three things.