Winchester: Space for Peace, 27th January

A CHORAL event at Winchester Cathedral to promote peace is being held next Wednesday (January 27). Organised by the city’s university, it aims to bring together several choirs and a host of musical styles from across the globe. Professor June Boyce-Tillman will lead the interfaith event, and it follows on from a similar concert at the cathedral in early 2009. The performers will tackle a range of motets, hymns, religious songs, chants and music from other alternative faiths.

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Week 10: Live By Priorities

Linvoy Primus and Israel Oyelumade with me in Winchester Cathedral at the end of the series.

The Main Thing
J John started right in with the worm/talking parrot joke, to remind us to “Remember that the main thing is to ensure that the main thing is the main thing!”
9 Weeks Gone
The video spun us through the previous 9 weeks, with Week 1 reminding us not to covet “most people want just a bit
more than they already have”, and questioning, what’s the Number 1 for you now – food, drink, sport… or God?
We saw a brief extract from The Winchester Passion, in which Israel Oyelumade played Jesus, before Claire Carson interviewed him. What did he truly remember from playing Jesus in the Passion?
  • The size of the audience – it was HUGE!
  • How to make the message relevant?
  • How to get under the skin of this man, Jesus? As an actor one tries to understand the heartbeat of the character you’re playing, as a Christian, God had already been working on Israel’s heartbeat!
As an actor, the profession is all about “self”, but when he met David Oyelowo, here he met a man full of self-assurance, and not from the labels he was wearing, but from ensuring that others were OK, which came from somewhere! Israel was asked by 3 people in a week to Holy Trinity Brompton, told “God wants you for himself”, but ignored this invitation until he re-met David at the Royal Shakespeare Company, when he decided “me and God are for keeps”! His priorities shifted, re-centering on God daily. Instead of looking at himself, he started looking at who around could be helped – and is always happiest when talking about eternal priorities!
J John: Is God Your No. 1?
Tonight, we’re looking at Exodus 20:3: have no other God’s before me!
God is God and He’s Not Applying for the Job…
he’s not going to play second fiddle to anyone or anything!

Here comes the analogy….
Your life is like a car…. so is Jesus:
  • Nowhere near your car?
  • In the car, but locked in the boot for Sundays, where you stuff him back in for the rest of the week, in case he upsets your ordinary life?
  • In the car, but a back-seat passenger who you don’t pay much attention to?
  • In the car, but a front-seat passenger, so he’s a bit more in your vision, but still…
  • Or is he the driver in your car….
More importantly, if he is driving your car, are you a backseat driver?
  • As Jesus drives down the “road of forgiveness” are you complaining that you don’t want to go this way?
  • As Jesus points the way at a fork in the road, are you complaining “where are you going?”
Knowing that God is First: What are the indicators?
How do we know that God is first in our lives. Here’s a useful acronym which we’ll expand on…
  • Finances
  • Interests
  • Relationships
  • Schedules
  • Troubles
God is always around, but we’re often so pre-occupied by other things we don’t see him.
Is he first in your FINANCES?
If you have a bag of 10 doughnuts, do you need all 10 doughnuts, or can you give some of it away?! You can’t take it with you when you die, so invest in sending some on ahead – invest in others!!
Is he first in your INTERESTS?
What occupies/pre-occupies you daily? You CAN be interested in other things, as there is sacred-ness in the world (God created it after all!)
  • Why is a football supporter known as a “fan”?
  • Why is a Christian known as a “fanatic”? Take it as a compliment!
Is knowing God the heartbeat of your life?
Is he first in your RELATIONSHIPS?
We need to embrace the qualities of Jesus in each other. J John referred to “My Shack, Your Shed and a Bungalow” (at least I think that’s what he said!) in reference to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who would rather be thrown into a furnace than worship a false god, a real challenge to us when we are called (daily!) to compromise!
The challenge is to obey God, regardless of what other people may think of you, and the consequences. Begins by stepping outside of your comfort zone…
Is God first in your SCHEDULE?
God knows that we have other responsibilities – are you conscious of God in that, rather than praying to Him as a last resort?! We should be constantly aware, tuning in, irrespective of what you are doing and where you are going!
Do you start your day with God. IF he is alive, and if he is the creator of the world – would you not WANT to know him… even athiest professors said yes when asked this question! (“The more intelligent people are, the more stupid they are”!!)
Is God first in your TROUBLES?
There’s 2 kinds of troubles:
  • Minor suffering, that’s what you suffer from!
  • Major suffering, that’s what I suffer from!
When we are troubled, who do we turn to? When it’s dark, that’s when you can see the stars! We all go through seasons of life, when it’s dark, we then see the morning star = Jesus.
How did you answer that, is God FIRST?
The answers to these questions indicate the kind of relationship you have with God – is he in the driving seat, and are you still a backseat driver?
A House Visit?
If Jesus came to spend a day or so at your house, how would you feel?
  • Would your welcome be sincere?
  • Would you hide some of the magazines you’d been reading and put a Bible there?
  • Would you bury some things in the deepest darkest cupboard, or is it all there for Him to see?
These are the things on which you mind and spirit feed. If Jesus is already in there, he already knows [and he already loves you as you are!]
ALL
We are called to LOVE God with ALL our heart, soul and mind… we are looking to see EVERYTHING from his viewpoint: thought, word, deed, business, pleasure, friendships, career, home, etc… He should be in all of them, not a compartmentalised “Sunday God”.
Choice?
In choosing Christ, you are always making a choice whic
h excludes all others. By turning away from other gods [in whatever form they come] you can actually HAVE GOD!
Who is Jesus to You?
  • Nothing
  • Something
  • Everything
William Booth
General William Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. Toward the end of his career, he was interviewed by the press. As he looked back over his lifetime, this is what he said: “God had all there was of me. There have been others who had greater plans and greater opportunities than I; but from the day I had a vision of what God could do, I made up my mind that God would have all there was of William Booth.” Thanks
Amazing Grace

Every week we’ve been finishing with my favourite hymn Amazing Grace!
Want to Know More?
All the partner churches would be pleased to hear from you, and J John is back in Winchester for a one-off event on 17th September as part of a national tour.

Week 9: Know God

Do Christians Think?

“I can’t believe in anything I can’t understand” says one student to J John. On discovering that he studied agriculture, J John asked: “So, explain to me, how a black cow eats green grass and produces white milk”…
Many people think that Christians don’t think because we don’t think the way they expect us to think… [but we truly question what we believe, what’s the point in believing in something if it won’t stand up to scrutiny? Not that I have all the answers.. daily questions, and just being open to the possibilities]
Video
Who’s your hero?
Why do we need heroes?
What would God look like to you?
Personal image (heavily marketed) makes or breaks “idols”

Yes, this week is a focus on Exodus 20: 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

Interview with Sam Blakey
Sam has been looking after the Press & Publicity for Just10, and often has letters published in The Times and local newspapers.
Sam had an understanding of God as a child, but once she got to university, she created a new life where she actively ignored God. Attending the funeral of a close friend at Christ Church she could feel God’s hope and present, and over the next 24 hours decided to just “trust God and go with it”.
Sam used the word ‘amazing’ quite a lot, which as she said, is what you tend to do when God is in your life. A year after she became a Christian, her husband, having watched The Passion of the Christ attended an Alpha course, and mid-way through, became a Christian.
Earlier this year, Sam’s son was assualted in an unprovoked attack. Sam was so angry about this that she set out on a “journey of vengeance”, and then realised (especially with the example of her son who was demonstrating forgiveness) that this was not how she, with God in her life, wanted to behave, and decided to forgive, at which she felt a burden lift.
Launches
The song “The Faltering Child” (re making choices), beautifully sung, written by Chris, head pianist! Brian Draper’s book Spiritual Intelligence was launched, officially released this Friday… J John said the manuscript arrived on a day when he didn’t really have time, started with a quick look, then read the whole thing in one sitting! [There was certainly a long queue for signed copies of the book at the end of the evening, I suspect Brian may have run out of copies!] The idea was created by Danah Zohar in Re-Wiring the Corporate Brain, and Brian wanted to build upon that with ideas from Ecclesiastes.
Back to J John
“If I had a photo of another woman in my wallet, should my wife just say, oh, that’s OK, or should she be angry and demand to know who it is… if I was turning to that woman for advice, would my wife believe me when I said “I love you”. “No, I would expect her to be hurt/angry – she has every right to demand that I keep myself for her. I want to, I love her, I made vows to her.”
How does this relate to “no idols”
Idolatry = adultery to God, it’s unfaithfulness, we have prostituted ourselves by bowing to idols.
We have a jealous God, he doesn’t share his affection!
Capture God?
A child asked whether God was in the house (yes), in the kitchen (yes), in the marmalade jar (yes), and then clapped the lid on and said “Got Him”. If we think we’ve “Got Him” in our hands, then we’ve lost touch with him… God can’t easily be captured.
We can’t chisel, paint or any other sensory form… all will depict Him as less than He truly is.
Some argue that such things are aids to worship, but such aids tend to become the objects of worship themselves.
So what is idolatry?
Any value, activity or idea that you place above God. In the modern world we are focused upon such things as physical beauty, sex, power, etc.
We should be reminded, as the Greeks were “Do not make of yourself an idol”, when it was all about perfection of the human form… we now have Barbie and Ken (and Barbie’s proportions are impossible for a woman to achieve!).
Every morning, some people “bow down” to peer at the weight on their scales… which determines what we will feel like today! (If so, he recommends Deborah Lovell: Lives in the Balance), and quoted a poem she’d written (see something similar).
YES, it is right to care for our God-given bodies through cleanliness, good nutrition and exercise, but don’t idolise one of those (which tends to lead to anorexia or plastic surgery).
Superstitions
Superstitions are a form of idolatry, usually coming from habits (e.g. not walking under a ladder [although I always think that’s more about a paint pot not landing on my head!]) or a belief in protection. Phrases such as “Touch Wood” (and removing 13th floor from hotels and 13th row from airplanes) acknowledge that there are other powers at work.
In the morning, many people check their “Horror-scopes”, explicitly spoken out against by God in Deuteronomy 18:9-12.
Freemasonry
J John appears to know a lot about the Freemasons… the Church of England Synod did a study into whether Freemasonry was compatible with Christianity – with an answer of a resounding NO!
  • Freemasonry is characterised by deception, and lower level members don’t really know what is going until they reach at least Level 4.
  • It is often seen as a charitable organisation, good for networking, job opportunities, social status, etc., therefore often seen as harmless.
  • Freemasons meet in Lodges which contain temples, where they kneel at at altar, swear oaths to sacred laws, and at the 4th level, start to worship specific Gods.
  • Curses are prol
    ific, and level 4 and above pledge lifelong silence BEFORE hearing material… and curse themselves to death if they reveal secrets.
  • At the 30th level, Freemasons declare that Lucifer is God (i.e. the Devil, the complete antithesis of God!)
Cultural Climate
Our current culture emphasises “whatever works for you”. However, if you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll fall for anything!
Best Description of God?
Jesus himself, who came to make God visible, made in God’s image (as are we).
If we’re listening to the radio, there are different frequencies assigned, and we need to tune into God’s frequency. Images of the world are bankrupt, and if you focus on them you’ll end up deceived and disappointed!
God Offers Us Forgiveness
Before Jesus, John the Baptist was a great preacher (and if you think that J John is aggressive, you should have heard him… calling people snakes and vipers!).
J John gave a great illustration of where John the Baptist could have taken a management approach to baptising people…. lining people up, asking them “Name, worst sin”, writing that on a sticker, slapping it on their chest, and then John would know what to free/baptise them from/for! As each person lines up, we got through the ten commandments, and there’s Jesus “none”, but then takes everyone else’s stickers, and then is ready to be baptised in freedom from all those sins [which I assume will wash away in the water, if the stickers I have are anything to go by, and seems to complete the analogy!]. Jesus wants to liberate us from all that weighs us down!
Know me –> Know the Truth –> the Truth shall set you free.
We know Jesus embodies the truth, so we will not be disappointed!
What shape is your God?
The only image on your heart/mind shoudl be Jesus, replacing the focus on all those other things.
All those things that God says have nothing to do with we go and see in museums, or use as art decorations. J John asks that last week if we have statues of Buddhas, ouija boards, etc. that we place them in the Amnesty Bins [I don’t believe that I do!]
Note, whenever you visit a castle and see the throne room, thrones are always for ONE, there’s no throne pews! So, have Jesus on the throne of your life, as, as J John only has space for one woman in his wallet, he only has room for one God in his life.
Just 10
Just 1!! Just one more week of Just10 left, which will be on “Living by Priorities”, and then check partner churches for follow-up courses. All these commandments have serious messages, but these last few are the REALLY SERIOUS ones!

Week 8: Take God Seriously

What does your name mean?

It’s your identity!
What do people think of when they say your name?
Names are often trademarked, and there are laws regarding defamation, where it’s illegal to attack someone’s reputation.
How would you like to be remembered?
Will Lunn-Rockliffe
David Williams had a great interview with Will, who is a bit of an adventurer – he doesn’t sit around thinking about things, he does them!
God meets us where we’re at, but sometimes we need to be taken away from our culture/comfort zone to meet God in a new way (as Will did), and it’s great to listen to other’s stories and see where God is in their live.
EVERY DAY (i.e. a daily battle): it’s important to wake up and make sense of life!
Back to J John
Knowing someone by name is the first step to knowing a person – if you remember their name, it shows you care, and people can be hurt if you forget [and I truly know how much difference it makes to students to be known by name, and how frustrated I get when the timetable is so tight it’s difficult to know everyone… although after travelling, I have reached a point where I will ask people several times, and say I don’t mind how many times you ask me].
Names have associations with them – e.g. what do you think of when the names Adolf Hitler or Mother Theresa come up?
God in Biblical Times
The Israelites believed that the name of God was so sacred that they threw away the quill each time they wrote God [wow, how many computers would I get through if I did that?]
Reputation in our Culture
We’re always very concerned about the reputation for our name.
Football clubs tend to disassociate themselves from football hooligans, saying that they can’t be genuine fans if they cause damage, but along for the ride/rumpus!
Think how schools emphasise good behaviour when on school trips, so as not to bring the name of the school into disrepute.
Are we serious about God?
If we are, then think about how we mis-use his name, we:
  1. Use it to insult
    In the dictionary, Jesus is 1) An exclamation of surprise 2) The founder of Christianity
    When swearing, we are treating something sacred with abuse
    The media uses Goddamit, Jesus Christ, etc, but says that they are merely reflecting society
    Film Classification: PG) Blasphemy 15) Sexual Swear Words
    Don’t de-sensitise the name of God – why do we say “Jesus” and not “Buddha”?
    Why are we blaming God for something he didn’t cause? If something good happens we tend to say, “aren’t I lucky?” , but if something bad happens we say “Why did God allow this?”
    Talking about coincidences (the flying kitten): are these God’s way of remaining anonymous?
  2. Use it to exult/indulge ourselves
    How often do we feel that we are doing God a favour?
    What motivates non-Christian parents to have their child baptised, when most are making promises that they have absolutely no intention of keeping?
    What about Christmas Christians, who take communication: 1 Corinthians 11:27? God hates hypocrisy, so do it because you believe in the death/resurrection of Jesus, otherwise don’t bother!
  3. Use to intimidate
    How often to Christians ‘Play the God Card’? This was used to sanction the Crusades, slavery, wars, football, etc. as well as much smalled ways.
    Believe that God speaks to us as individuals, but don’t misuse the “God told me” [Heard about a few guys doing that: “God has chosen you for my wife”… yeah right has been the general reaction!]
    Beware of “spiritual forgery”. Don’t twist the Bible to fit your own ideas, ideals and lifestyle!
So what’s can we do positively in using God’s name?
  1. I need to be selective with my words
    Watch slang – which is often a shorthand for swearing (e.g. Damn, is a shorthand for Damnation: condemning someone to an evil fate)
    By Golly, Gosh, For crying out loud, all refer back to God/Jesus
    Often we say we don’t mean anything like that, but God’s name is a holy name, and shouldn’t “not mean anything”.
    We are bombarded with profanity on all sides, and unintentionally it becomes a part of our vocabulary!
    If we become too compromising it may not bother us, but it bothers God. In the Bible, misusing God’s name was worthy of the death penalty.
    Make a decision not to use God’s name irreverantly and ask colleagues to desist.
  2. I need to be sincere in my actions
    Ensure our life matches what we say we believe: Ensure your walk is consistent with your talk.
    Many people attend church only when they are hatched, matched and despatched, and with that, the first time you’re carried in, the last carried out, so only once by choice!
Whose name do we use so glibly?
God can
  • Cleanse our souls, heal our deepest hurts (putting hands out, palms up, is a sign of vulnerability and that we are prepared to receive healing)
  • Restore humanity/dignity
  • Saviour = name of power, some people are healed in God’s name, and delivered from evil spirits.
  • Jesus spent 3 years discussing who, where, why, how, etc… and told many parables, at least one of which will connect with where we are NOW!
God Is…
So many different things, so that he appeals to all of us, e.g.
  • Teacher: Educators
  • The Way: Traffic Wardens
  • The Truth: Politicians
  • The Vine: Horticulturalists, etc
Why Christianity?
Why not? Essentially J John is presenting God’s challenge – you’ve now reached a fork in the road, where you can go on of two ways. Assuming that there’s 2 men at that crossroads, which would you ask, the one who is dead, or the one who has been brought back to life and is more able to give you answers!
You can be very sincere in your beliefs, but very sincerely wrong!
That Wedding Invitation
Last week J John talked about a wedding invitation… God/Jesus are offering a conditional promise – to rescue YOU if “you believe in my name”.
It’s not just to know about him, but to know HIM… and like pianos, we need frequent tuning!
Just 10: 2 weeks left:
Tonight: Know God
Next Week: Live by Priorities
Various local churches are also planning follow-up activities, so please contact the various churches for more information, or check the Just10 website, for information on churches near you.

Week 7: "Catch Your Breath"

Catch Your Breath/Take Time out to Smell the Roses
The modern day equivalent of “You shall remember and keep the Sabbath day holy” can be “take time out to smell the roses”!

The Entertainer
This week, Gary Grant, who owns “The Entertainer” toy stores across the UK was interviewed about his decision to keep his shops shut on a Sunday (setting aside the Christian aspect, Sunday is an important day for families, felt it was wrong to open), and to not stock certain lines of toys which he didn’t feel comfortable selling (depite constant questions from others as to why he wouldn’t sell something so long as it made him money). Trusts that God is in charge of how he runs his business. Despite the fact that he lost licences in 7-day malls, other companies who did so have gone bust, but opening 6 days a week, he runs a viable business.  Gary says that he was making the decisions that felt right for him, but says this decision may not be the same for everyone – but was a big enough decision to make the news in Australia when his store in Somerset was visited by a reporter from the UK national press, posing as a parent wanting to buy Harry Potter toys.
Gary says: “I’m the boss, I’ll sell what I’m happy with as I’m accountable to God, and I need to work with integrity” and emphasised that we can all make a difference, whether we own a business, or are further down the chain!
Back to J John
The original plan that God made is that there would be 6 days for our regular duties, a day to focus on God. As with all the Commandments, this was designed to be a blessing rather than a burden. There is a built-in human need for balance in life, and as the Japanese have demonstrated, this is not working in our modern day society.
  • The pace of life is literally killing people. If you get burnt out, you’ll wake up and discover you’re not that bright after all.
  • When your output exceeds your input, then your upkeep will be your downfall.
  • If you have too many irons in the fire, you’re likely to put the fire out… before you know it, your spark has gone!
The term “Sabbath” derives from the Hebrew shabbat (???), “to cease”, which was first used in the Biblical account of the seventh day of Creation (Genesis 2:2-3) [Wikipedia]. Does it matter which day is the Sabbath? For historical reasons it has become a Sunday, but it makes sense to have the same day off if possible in order to meet for e.g. corporate worship. We have a responsibility to ask, even though the answer may be no!
Is this commandment optional?
You don’t think “oooo, shall I skip adultery this week?” do you, so why the sabbath?
Why is the Sabbath Holy?
  • A day to rest our bodies.
    Rest from your weekly activities and create a day that is distinctive.
    Drs say that a lot of illnesses where rest is prescribed is for those where the Sabbath is in arrears. [I’ve heard this before, but think it’s so appropriate]
    If you’re not taking the day off, you’ll not be fit to live with.
    The story of the businessman/the fisherman
  • A day to recharge our emotions.
    Told us the story of Chippie the Budgie, who was sucked up by the hoover, rinsed off under the tap, then dried with a hairdryer: Sucked in, washed up, blown over!
    How many are tired, tense and troubled?
    How many expressions are there like “I feel like resigning from the human race”?
    Take some time out to recharge in the quietness (as I did on what I keep saying is my best day out of my RTW trip: Doubtful Sound in New Zealand, where we stood still in complete silence for 5 minutes!). Psalm 23:2. Enjoy nature rather than trying to change it.
  • A day to be renewed spiritually
    We have so little time for God – our lives are so full and yet so empty.
    God says: “Be Still and Know That I am God”
    Worship renews the spirit as rest renews the body.
    Treat Sunday with delight, a
    s God’s Holy Day… and in the first part of every day, demonstrate to God that he comes first through daily devotions
    We currently “Worshop work, work at play and play at worship”.
    A son said that he’d watched church on the TV and didn’t want to go… his mum said, OK, when we get back, you can watch your lunch on the McDonald’s advert, whilst we have a proper roast…

Pearls of Wisdom?

  • Only as we cease to be restless doing, do we discover what is to be done.
  • The most important things in life are not THINGS, they are people. If you’re too busy for family/close friends, you’re too busy. We have less time for meals than we did, don’t eat what we should, and don’t take time to digest what we eat… it’s all grabbed and snatched!
  • Technology: the phone at mealtimes – ignore it – be the master of the telephone, don’t let it master you (J John has a particular bugbear with people constantly checking their mobile phones, and calls for us to focus on the people we’re socialising with, rather than checking it every 5 minutes!). Technology promised to make our lives easier, but has instead increased the pace of our work (both speed/volume).
Permission to Rest
This was always something I chose to focus on in an early worship session for Oak Hall holidays. The guests were there on holiday, and it was important that they allowed themselves PERMISSION to rest – as so few of us do – as the Tour Leader I couldn’t, but I would get my rest on return. Leisure is such a great stress-reliever. [I know I have a reputation for not being great at resting, but it is something I am working on this year, trying to ensure I have social time, reading time, sleeping time, time to get organised, asking others for help, and taking time to go out and get some fresh air!]
PLAY/WORK: God is equally pleased when each is done to the benefit of the other.
Where is God in all this?
Many in Britain are restless because they’re not at rest with their creator. Once we connect with God THE CREATOR we have to take the maker’s instructions seriously.
God’s Wedding Invitation
God’s offer is like a wedding invitation, it has an RSVP on it, and it has a date by which you must reply otherwise you can’t go.
  • From: God
  • To: Us in Jesus Christ/Everybody
  • About: Forgiveness from the past, and new life here today, and hope for the future.
If we were invited to tea with the Queen, we wouldn’t be able to help it slipping out, why are we not so before the King of Kings, before whom all those Kings/Queens will bow.
We are heavy-laden because we are a self-sufficient society.
Christianity: A Crutch? Brainwashing
When others have confronted J John that Christianity is simply a crutch that he uses to get himself through life, he admits this truly. We are ALL BROKEN PEOPLE, and if we had a broken leg we’d use a cruth, therefore in life, Christianity is our crutch!
When people accuse him of having been brainwashed, he’s pleased to say that his brain has been washed clean (and you don’t want to see what was in there before)… and from then onwards it’s a journey, letting God into all “rooms of our house”, which leads to the “fruits of the spirit“.
Final Thoughts
“In a world of hopelessness, the world is like a hospital gown – you’re often not as well covered as you think you are.” (Church is not a form of insurance, but a living relationship!).
Lieut Knox’s Headstone “Follow Me”, to which someone added “To follow you, I’m not content, until I know which way you went”.
We prepare for so much (e.g. exams/weddings), but not for the one thing that is going to keep us for eternity – Jesus.
Just 3 of Just10 Winchester to go. Next week is “Take God Seriously”. [Feel free to comment on these blogs BTW]

Week 6; Keep the Peace With Your Parents

Opening Joke

Something along the lines of (same, same, but different!):
Dear Mum

I thought I had better write to you about a couple of problems I’m having at school this term. Last week half of the boarding house burned down. But don’t worry too much because I’m now living in a flat in the village. I’m living with Frank the plumber. There’s no need to worry, he’s very nice, in fact I’m three months pregnant with his baby. We’re planning to get married at the end of term. 
Love Sarah

Next day, another letter from Sarah……

Dear Mum

I know you will be worrying about yesterday’s letter so I thought I should write to you again. Mum the boarding house didn’t really burn down last week and I’m not living in a flat in the village. In fact I’m not even pregnant with Frank’s baby and we’re not getting married at the end of term. Mum, the real problem is that I failed my mid year exams really badly and I just wanted you to see this problem in proper prospective, All my Love,
Sarah.

THAT PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE IS SO IMPORTANT!
Culture
We live in a culture where those who are aged are sidelined, whereas the young are given increasingly more responsibility. Boundaries are unclear, and often (one of the worst things children can) hear is “I’m very disappointed in you”. 
Karin Ling
Karin was interviewed about her journey of faith, from when she asked Jesus to be her “special friend” aged 5, to deciding as a teenager that she was no longer interest, but her parents indicated that she should attend youth group til the age of 16, so she sat there and scowled. Her parents trusted that God had a bigger plan as Karin became focused/driven on success/money and gained a place at a competitive university, where after 4 weeks, without the distraction of friends, she decided she had to face up to things, and thanks her Mum to love/accept her whatever choices she made, which included leaving University. Having made a recommitment, she now uses her own experience to help others.
J.John: “This is the hardest commandment for me”
“Have you seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding?… Well, it’s worse than that in reality!”
“My mum is a travel agent for guilt trips”. 
If parents expect SO MUCH we feel we can’t possibly live up to them – no matter how good we are, there’s always room for improvement!
Thoughts on Family Life
  • Child when asked “My name begins with M, I pick things up”: Mother
  • The father carries a photo where his money used to be.
  • Teenagers: “Stop asking where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”
  • We encourage the kids to show off, then tell them to “Sit down and shut up”.
God’s Perspective/4 Principles
The commandment “Honour your father and mother” is a positive focus  on the smallest unit in society. 
  1. Honour my parents by ACCEPTING them.
    Don’t tune them out, don’t highlight the negatives.
    God is not asking us to pretend that are parents are perfect when they’re not.
  2. Honour my parents by APPRECIATING them
    Appreciate the effort that your parents put in is difficult/costly.
    Son presented bill for £1 per job, mother presented bill of £1000s in return, but the final total was “I love you”. 
    Mothers can direct air traffic control, whereas children are expensive but can operate the DVD!
  3. Honour my parents by AFFIRMING them
    This is the only commandment which doesn’t last a lifetime, a day will come when you can no longer make amends – and no amount of expense at the funeral will be equal to that of a visit whilst their alive.
  4. Honour my parents by NOT ABANDONING them
    As parents age, offer support in practical ways.
A Message to Kids: The commandment is not “Humour your mother and father”
  • “I hate my parents”: Sometimes we hate you too… 
  • You may hate it when parents repeat thing,…. if do it first time, we wouldn’t have to. Acknowledge that you’ve heard by saying “I got it”.
  • Play your part in the family, Dad is not ‘the old man’
  • Teenagers are experts on surveys of one: “Everyone else is doing it”
  • Mark Twain quote
  • We get parents at so late a stage in their life that it’s impossible to change their habits!
A Message for Parents
  • Think about what example you are setting, more likely to be honoured.
  • The perfect model for parenting: God – treat our kids as God treats us.
  1. God listens to us
    Teenagers often complain that they can say what they like at home as no one’s listening anyway!
  2. God understands us
    A carpenter works WITH, not AGAINST the grain. 
    Give your kids roots and wings…
    Are we perfect? NO, but God accepts us through grace, treat our kids the same, not as though our standards are automatically the best.
    Teachers can teach kids to count, parents can teach their children WHAT COUNTS.
    Demonstrate honesty, admit when you’ve done something wrong.
    Do/don’t do as you’ve said, even if it’s difficult.
  3. God loves us
    Offer affection, affirmation and attention (how often do you just sit and let them set the agenda?)
    The average time parents spend talking to their children is 15 MINUTES A WEEK!
    It’s easier to build children than to mend broken adults.
    If you don’t live by priorities, you end up living by pressures. 
  4. God disciplines his children
    “I love you, but sometimes I don’t like your beahviour.”
    Often people tie up the dog at night, but let their children run free. 
    Discipline offers a structure of safety until the children has enough structure in character to stand up on their own. 
    Parents discipline best when they exhibit disciplined behaviour of their own.
Rules for Home
Be 
  • Fair
  • Firm
  • Fun
Be there!
A challenge for J John
Requirement to assume that forgiveness does not mean forgetting, and it’s possible to forgive without dulling the pain (of 51 years of nagging!), but does remove the resentment!
Required to pardon, give up anger, show mercy/compassion. 
Forgiveness is about building positive in the present without repeating the past. 
God’s Family
God gave up his Son so that we could be adopted into God’s family. Whatever our experience of family, he will be the perfect Father. 
God loves each one of us as though there was only one of us.
As Jesus walked through a crowded street he asked “Who touched me?”, which his disciples thought was a crazy question, but Jesus could feel that there was ONE person reaching out to make contact with him. J. John believes that Jesus knew who this person was, but wanted her to articulate it (i.e. the power of prayer).  In response, Jesus will stop as he’s longing to embrace/adopt you.
Embrace God, the past is past, don’t try to saw sawdust, with his help, move forward and become what you CAN BECOME.
Tonight: “Catch Your Breath”, see Just10Winchester

Raaaaaaaaaaaarghhh: “Managing Our Anger” (J John: Week 5)

Are you angry?
Are you “temperamental”: 50% temper; 50% mental?

The opening video demonstrated how violence starts in the heart/mind… with one vegan declaring “I can’t even kill an animal, why would I kill someone!” I did wonder if anyone would admit to wanting to murder on camera, although one got close… depending on how far he was pushed/how drunk he was… to which J John added, difficult fights break out amongst those who both think they are right, and neither agrees to back down!
Interview/Sketch
The interview was with Michael Campbell, formerly a boxer, and an activist in the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, with a great hatred of the English… now the Town Centre Chaplain for Watford, and a member of the Street Angels patrol… crime has dropped by 35% in Watford since this started 3 years ago.
Not a huge fan of the sketches (apologies to those who probably spend much time thinking of the content)… which this week focused on an argument between husband/wife over possession of the TV remote control!
DO NOT MURDER
The sixth commandment is simple… murder is a serious crime which once committed cannot be undone, and appears in many different terminologies (e.g. manslaughter, serial killing, etc.) in the newspapers on a daily basis. The term “Road Rage” made it into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1997, and of course there are associated terms such as ‘Air Rage’. 42% of those in the UK workforce noted that they have been yelled at at work, with many reduced to tears.
Is culture to blame?
Violence is pumped into our culture by the megatons… e.g. films such as Die Hard are not constructive models of anger management! We can also break this commandment through passive action – e.g. if we see someone freezing/hungry and do not help them out, we may be letting them freeze/starve to death.
Abortion
J John tackled the tricky subject of abortion: “Abortion is wrong even if it is a right”, arguing that the Bible clearly states that life is valuable from the moment of conception. He prayed for those who may still be struggling with grief/guilt/fear over having had an abortion – as 40 million do every year globally.
Does it have to get physical?
It’s not just about inflicting physical pain, but actions and attitudes can cause harm, e.g. grudges, resentment and prejudice, etc. Our language is full of venom: e.g. “Drop Dead”, and “If looks could kill”. J John argues that there is a thin line between violence of feeling and violence of action, and its often with those that we care most about that we get the most angry with/hurt the most.
What Kind of Anger do you Have? (or a mix?)
The Maniac: Do you explode? “Temper is the one thing you can not get rid of by losing”; “People who fly into a rage usually make a bad landing”; “Those who blow a fuse may be in the dark”; “be flexible and you won’t get bent out of shape”.
The Mute: Do you silently steam, whilst pretending to feel no anger? Those who hold anger tend to bury it alive, and the body feels its effects (e.g. heart attacks, digestive problems, etc.)
The Manipulator: Retailiates with underhand techniques, using sarcasm and hurtful humour.
Principles to Survive
  1. I need to admit my anger (if we don’t talk about it, we’ll take it out on others; there is justifiable anger – the Bible is full of stories of God/Jesus expressing anger, and we need to seek to do the same – express it non-destructively)
  2. I need to deal with my anger immediately (“You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist” “Those who fight fire with fire end up with the ashes”. Don’t give a piece of your mind (you may not be able to afford to lose it), but seek to be a peacemaker. It takes more inner strength to forgive than retaliate… let God give justice).
  3. I need to understand anger (Anger usually covers a hurt, which covers an expectation, which covers a need… need to uncover these).
  4. I need to stop and think before I speak (If you speak when you’re angry, you’ll probably make the best speech you wish you’d never made)
  5. I need to ask God to fill me with his Holy Spirit (seek self-control, asking God to influence thoughts, words and actions; society tries to reform people, Jesus can transform)
Don’t let your anger get out of control!

Wearing the Cross
Jesus stretched out his arms to embrace us all… God allowed his Son to be murdered for all – including those who have murdered others.
On seeing a girl at the checkout wearing a cross on a chain, J John said “Oh, you’re a Christian then”, on looking at her surprise, he entered into a conversation, asking if she’d think it was weird if she’d seen someone wearing a pair of earrings with a gas chamber as one earring, and the electric chair as the other… both are symbols of execution. She looked disgusted, but he emphasised that that is what the Cross means – but that Jesus wore it on his back, not around his neck. He asked her to think about what it really meant, she said “it looked nice”, and he said “nice was the last thing it was” – it was painful, humiliating, and that was done for us.
Before inviting people forward as usual, J John talked about the Archbishop of Milan, who as a child had been dared by his friends to go into the Confessional and shock the priest. Doing so with relish, the priest directed him outside, to look up to the Crucifix on the building, to shake his fist and say “I don’t care”. In front of his friends, as he started to do so, he realised what the death of Christ truly meant, and broke down in tears, before transforming his life.
See more on Just10 Winchester, 5 more weeks to go!

Winchester Cathedral: My Second Home?

Been spending a lot of time at Winchester Cathedral at the moment… on Friday night, I was there for “The Big Sleep Out” (which I’d probably rename the Big Rough Out as it didn’t involve a whole lot of sleep! The photo above is of me looking like the Michelin woman, Charly strapped into her sleeping bag, and Amanda well prepared with plastic sheeting!

The event was officially running on a wet weather plan inside the Cathedral, rather than the Cathedral grounds, and plenty of people took advantage of this, finding the warmest spots, inflating airbeds and campbeds… how many homeless have you seen with those… good old concrete is what we were looking for! I know several who stayed outside ALL night, but although we started outside, it started to rain around 2.30am, so we bolted for the Cathedral… which was very cold, and the floor was very hard (and quite damp still)… but this is similar to what someone who is homeless for real would do, they would find a carpark or some such to camp out in.
Sponsor: Still time on: http://www.justgiving.com/drbexl and a HUGE thanks to all those who have already sponsored me!
Twitter Feed for the Event: http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23bigsleepout