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Liberal Life & My Vision For 2015

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I love living in a liberal society I really do, but I'm becoming increasingly concerned about it as well.
By liberal I mean loose and tolerant. It's wonderful to live in a culture that has so few taboos and even the ones it does have are there to try and preserve the spirit of liberalism and acceptance. Wonderful, but also a bit unnerving especially since things move so fast nowadays.


Who knows what popular culture will be prizing and demonising in 50 years time.
It seems that even the most open-minded of people could well find themselves on the 'wrong side of history' if they refuse to keep pace with the flow of ideas and the shifting of values.
Four times. Four times this year I've heard in varying formats the idea that for some people paedophilia is a normal perversion, a birth defect like say diabetes (as one expert suggested in a recent documentary). The underlying point being made in each setting was that since this is a real struggle for some, the rest of us…

What Jesus Means To Me

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It's Christmas time! But what's all the fuss about? This is a short blog on who Jesus is and what he means to me.

If you've ever wondered why a baby in a manger means so much to so many people here's something I read recently that will help. You see although the Bible doesn't have too much to say about the Christmas card scene of oxen and donkeys, swaddling cloths and inn keepers it does wax lyrical about the identity and implications of just who the baby in the crib is:
Jesus Christ, God's perfect Son, is the Beloved of the Father, the Song of the angels, the Logic of creation, the great Mystery of godliness, the bottomless Spring of life, comfort and joy. We were made to find our satisfaction, our heart's rest, in him.  We can get distracted by so many things and not just at Christmas time as well. We in the church as much as those outside take only fleeting glimpses at Jesus before 'graduating' onto something else:
It's not just our self-foc…

God the Father: Grace & Truth

Devotional reflections on the Father from John's gospel

Scripture

This morning's full reading can be found here 'and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.'John 1:14Observation

To begin with, let's ask a couple of questions about this verse: What is gloryandwhose glory have we seen? 

Glory; it's a hard word to properly define and explain. It's a word that's similar to majesty except less inseparable from royalty, and it's shinier in appearance. The dictionary uses words like resplendent, honour, praiseworthy to describe it. It could also be simplified to mean 'value' or 'worth' and in this sense John (the writer of this gospel) is saying, 'we have seen his value.' or 'we have seen how worthy he is'.

But whose value or worth is John talking about? We can't just assume we know the answer to this.

The answer John provides is &…

An Original Idea

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I want to share an insight that I came across recently to do with the origin of religious belief.  I'll keep it fairly brief. 
The ancient world was a world full of gods. Every nation/tribe had their own god and it seems like there was a god for almost everything. There were Gods of agriculture (Artemis), of fertility (Isis), of beauty (Aphrodite), war (Mars), for pregnancy (Bes), of the ocean (Poseidon), of households, you name it. The big ones are well known to us, gods like Nike the god of victory, but many are not.
More like temperamental supermen/women (or X-Men) than supreme beings these gods were powerful, but moody with quite troubled histories. They were as likely to change as the English weather and notoriously difficult to please, Jupiter was notably hard to placate. Fanciful and mythological stories abounded about those gods and where they came from. Take, for example, the story of Cybele & Attis: Cybele, so it goes, fell in love with the (supernatural) shepherd man…

The Knights Temporal: 4 Years On

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4 Years ago today was my dad's funeral. For the past few years on this day I like to post a few memories and reflections about him and our life together. The previous posts can be found here.


Remembering:
Recently I've been remembering our games of chess together. My dad was good at chess since he was a good strategist, able to think several moves ahead. My dad rarely made any mistakes and he took great pleasure in reminding me often that chess is a game unlike any other, 'it's the only game in the world' he'd say 'where luck counts for nothing.' Which suited him to say since he won all the time.
He was right though, chess matches aren't decided by luck.
As a game, chess has sort of followed me around. Dad taught me to play when I was young and, to make him proud, I represented the local Cub Scouts in a regional tournament (I lost my opening game - pride should never be encouraged!). At Uni my housemates were keen players and after I moved to Eastbou…

5 things I've learnt since becoming a Dad

I know I've only been doing this dad thing for 4 years so I'm not pretending to know much about it, but here's some things I've learnt in these 4 years. 

1. Pants Matter I don't know why but they do. Some of the biggest outbursts in recent months have been to do with Riley's pants. Apparently having boring pants is not only possible, but terrible. Every few months we have to make trips to buy new pants - just to preserve the peace. For a while it was pirate pants, then it was Spiderman pants and now it's superheroes. Valuable lesson #1 don't settle for boring pants. You never know when your friends might ask you what pants you're wearing and if at that moment your pants have only got stripes on them, you're going to feel a fool!

2. I Want To Be A Kids TV Presenter I'll be honest, I feel a slight twinge of jealousy every time a new presenter is introduced on CBeebies. I want to be Andy Day of Andy's Wild/Dinosaur Adventures fame. 
It just …

Am I Going To Hell?

A friend asked me that question today in the changing rooms after a game of squash. When I say he asked me that question it's perhaps more accurate to say that he challenged me with that question. It wasn't a soul searching 'I'm really worried' but more of a 'do you see how ridiculous your worldview is?' sort of challenge. It came in the middle of a 'conversation' (read 'attempt to discredit my faith') about eternity, morality and God.

He started it Miss. Promise.

The blunt and abrupt framing of the question caught me off guard. I struggled since I didn't know what the 'right' answer to give was. 'Right' because I was torn between a blunt, but potentially misunderstood, 'yes' and a wishy-washy 'God is love and life is long and who really knows anyway...'. The danger of simply answering 'yes' is that he would hear my answer to be '...because you're a wicked sinner and I'm a holy moralist…

An Epistle From Timothy to Paul

Months before his death the Apostle Paul, wrote a letter to his friend and apprentice Timothy. The letter appears in our New Testaments as 2 Timothy and is a tender, warmhearted letter written in much affection. As a younger leader I identify with the Timothy of this letter. I have been privileged to have had several 'Pauls' in my life ranging from older men in their 60s & 70s to those only a few years older than me. These people have inputted into my life and trained me, not to work a job but to live a life of faith that honours Jesus. I appreciate and value all of the older men who have set an example for me by faithfully loving their wives, raising their children and passionately declaring the good news of Jesus. I have learnt to pray, to give, to preach and to serve from such men, and I will go on learning from them for many years to come. Some I've known personally while others have influenced me from afar. Men like Rob Milliken, Richard James, Tom Shaw, Andy Chev…

A Promise To All

There is an attitude in the mind of the Christian that needs to be dealt with. It's an 'us' and 'them' that divides the church into two groups - the clergy and the laity/the professionals and the amateurs (or producers and consumers!). 
It isn't a healthy or biblical way to think and not 'killing it' disables us from living an effective Christian life and it robs the church of its power. 
Jesus said 'my sheep hear my voice and they follow me'. All of us in the same camp/category, all of us 'sheep'.
In John 15, speaking to his disciples, he said: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 Every Christian is a disciple and every disciple is called to 'abide' in Jesus. Abiding (some translations…

Signs of Life

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This past week I've had two encouraging moments as a missionary that I wanted to share. 
I love Jesus and I love his church, and I really want to help make it easier for non-churched, non-Jesus loving people to fall in love them as well. For a long time in church we have been committed to the vision of 'every member ministry' (priesthood of all believers) but what I want churchfolk to see and be reminded of is that we also believe just as passionately in 'every member missionary' - as in Jesus' words in Acts 1 '...you will be my witnesses'.
For a while now we've stressed the words that come immediately before that statement of Jesus' 'when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be my witnesses.' but not part about being witnesses. The trouble is that by doing so we have inadvertently created a 'wait until you experience a rushing-of-power-and-boldness-upon-you, and then go and be my witnesses' mentality. That may be a little unf…

The Material World Vs Elfland

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Beware the dehumanising materialism of men like Richard Dawkins. That is all.

Yesterday there was a flurry of activity again as he 'came out' against... fairy tales. Yes Richard is now trying to topple beanstalks and rescue fair maidens from dragons. Articles with tag lines like 'reading fairy stories to children is harmful, says Richard Dawkins' flooded social medias. Well it just happened that this morning I came to the next chapter in a book I'm reading that explores the value of fairy stories. The chapter is entitled 'The Ethics of Elfland' and it appears in 'Orthodoxy' by G K Chesterton, an influential writer and thinker in the early part of the 20th Century.

The reason Dawkins has a problem with fairy stories is ultimately because of a belief on his part about what makes us fundamentally human. For him fairy stories and tales of the supernatural are a throw back to an era in human history when we were less evolved and advanced. For him we nee…

The Unreported War

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In many parts of the world Christianity is being violently and systematically eradicated, and so few of the stories make it into our headlines. Below are some quotes and statistics about it.

As I come across articles or information about the persecution of Christians I intend to publish it here. If it interests you at all, please pop back from time to time. It is my hope that this acts both as a way of documenting & raising awareness, about what has been described in The Spectator as the greatest war never reported on, that is the war of anti-Christian persecution raging in many parts of the globe.

It was brought to my attention when I read a 99p ebook from Amazon entitled The Silence of Our Friends. I have typed up several stand out quotes and key ideas from the book here in case anyone's interested in a summary. This began a series of 'eye opening' discoveries about something that receives so little media coverage.

To start with, here's a quote from the afore men…

Aliens & Strangers

Do you remember the film the Flight of the Navigator? In it a young boy discovers a space craft in the woods, goes for a flight in it and upon returning learns that he's been missing for a long time. Years have gone by and his family have all but given him up as dead. His once family home is now owned by another family and everyone he knew has aged considerably and built their lives without him in it. Imagine returning from a trip to discover that everything you knew and loved had changed, that you no longer belonged to that place. You no longer fit in and are very aware of the fact.
Increasingly I feel like that. 
I don't understand the society I live in and so few people seem alarmed by the same things I am. Now I don't pretend to understand politics, I don't really get how our system of government works - perhaps someone could help me here? - but today I saw a newspaper headline that only confirmed for me all the more that, I don't belong here. 
Two weeks ago we…

Poetic Justice - the game

Played a fun (albeit hard) game tonight: Poetic Justice

Example:
Clue - wilting flower : _ _ _ _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _
Ans - floppy poppy

Here's a round for fun: answers below

1) Rainforest blunder - 6 / 6
2) Crooked Gentleman - 4 / 4
3) Lovesick Cat - 7 / 6
4) Drop in the cat population - 6 / 7
5) Changeable gherkin - 6 / 6
6) Discard road plan - 5 / 3
7) elector's transport - 6 / 6
8) saturate hardwood tree - 4 / 3
9) naked challenge - 4 / 4
10) appointment with destiny - 4 / 4
11) broad newly-wed - 4 / 5
12) unusual knack - 4 / 5
13) immobile lorry - 5 / 5
14) fresh adhesive - 3 / 4
15) inn food - 3 / 3
16) elegant food - 4 / 4
17) bedtime snack 5 / 4
18) liberated hive dweller - 4 / 3
19) obese rodent - 3 / 3
20) pull small carpet - 3 / 3













Answers
1) jungle bungle
2) bent gent
3) smitten kitten
4) feline decline
5) fickle pickle
6) scrap map
7) voter's motors
8) soak oak
9) bare dare
10) fate date
11) wide bride
12) rare flair
13) stuck truck
14) new glue
15) pub grub
16) posh n…

Free, to choose

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Toddler reins, they're a beautiful thing. Especially when you've got a strong-willed toddler at one end and a busy road nearby. As I walked my dog, sorry son, to the park recently I made sure he didn't walk too close to the road. Then, as we got close to the park I thought to myself 'what the heck, I'm faster than he is, let's see what he does...' I let go of the reins and said toddler was free. I saw a look of recognition flash across his face as he realised he was free. He began to walk away from me, (what had I done?!) and then, just as he was about to break into a full on sprint and make a mad dash for a life beyond the tyrannical regime of dad. Just as he was about to make full use of his freedom, he stopped. He turned, walked back to me and held out his hand inviting me to hold it. He had the option of freedom without rules, freedom to do whatever he pleased - and it pleased him to walk next to me, to hold my hand. 
I can't tell you how much my he…