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Life(style)

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
Categories
Life(style)

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!
Categories
Event Life(style)

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
Facebook Photos: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/album.php?aid=257311&id=656235160
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Life(style)

J John: Week 4: "Affair Proof Your Marriage" Just10

The Videos
After reminding us that the 10 Commandments offer a “map not a track”, we watched those in London, when questioned “Will an affair revitalise a marriage?” A mix of responses, but the youngest pulled a face of disgust and said “just think of all the diseases you could get” (so those public health campaigns are paying off then?), and another that modern relationships are all about ‘use and abuse’. Most modern affairs start on the internet…

Perry & Heather
Perry and Heather met at a church event, and he soon had to inform her that he was a haeomophiliac who had contracted HIV via a blood transfusion. This was in the 1980s, at the height of the fear of AIDS. They told us of their story, of expecting 5 years of marriage, with no children, but have just celebrated their 20th Wedding Anniversary (although Perry has regular stints in hospital, including one 2 weeks ago – and at times plans have been made for his funeral), and have had 2 children through pioneering surgery.

Back to J John
After a beautiful rendition of the 23rd Psalm, J John came bouncing back on giving us the modern perception of the 6th commandment, which we tend to think is “You shall not admit adultery”, rather than “You shall not commit adultery” – I think we’d agree there’s a subtle difference there! After cracking a few more jokes (man in a fridge, anyone?), he went on to talk about that other joy – contemporary culture – where loving couples are rarely married, but are surrounded by music, laughter and sumptuous surroundings – it’s all romantic & exciting, with little recognition of the tough times that come in a committed relationship.

Adultery
Even when forgiven, leaves scars… it hurts and shatters trust.

Love = giving
Adultery = taking.

Marriage was designed by God in the Garden of Eden, where 2 become 1, should never be split.

Is this topic not relevant?
For most of us, having realised how we’ve #failed in the past 3 commandments, if we’re not in a relationship, have we won at this one?! No, because affairs/lust start in the mind:

“Many people have sex on the brain, and that’s the worst place to have it”.

As a man followed with his eyes a beautiful woman walking past the window, his wife, without even looking up says “Was it worth the trouble you’re in now?”

Thoughts -> Words -> Actions – > Habits -> Character

Practical Steps
When the Bible says ‘take out your eye’ or ‘cut off your hand’ if they cause you to sin, we’re not LITERALLY talking that! If it’s what you’re looking at, cancel the Playboy subscription or the adult channel… by encouraging fantasy, you’re encouraging reality.

If you’ve had an affair in the past: go for counselling (delicate/painful/needs to be done)
If you’re having one now: STOP (that’s all… and read Psalm 51)

Rationalising, simply means “Rational Lies”.

In the story of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus commanded the woman to “Go and Sin no more

One for the archeology dept: “Why do archeologists make the best husbands? Because the older she gets, the more interested he is in her” (boom boom)

How to maintain interest over the years:

  1. Respect
    Mutual respect: the husband should love the wife as himself.
    There’s no such thing as a “perfect marriage” as it’s the union of 2 imperfect people.
    “You can bury a marriage with lots of little digs.”
    “Don’t criticise your wife’s judgement: look who she chose to marry”
    It’s not about how compatible you are, but how you deal with the incompatabilities: may not necessarily see eye-to-eye, but still be able to walk hand-in-hand.
    Good communication is key (even for ‘conversationally challenged’ men). Women speak 35,000 words per day, men 20,000 (so they’ve run out of words by the time they get home!). [See a refutation of these stats]
    Need to TALK and LISTEN, 4 hardest statements to use more of:
    I was wrong
    I am sorry
    I don’t know
    I need help.
    A theatre was packed full of men waiting to hear “How do you get your wife to treat you like a King?”…. simple answer: “Treat her like a Queen”.
  2. Responsibility
    Look to fix the problem NOT the blame: your attitude should be the same as that of Christ
    The number one problem in marriage is selfishness, too much concern for rights, rather than duties.
  3. Romance
    “If there was more courting in marriage, there’d be less marriages in court.”
    “Adam should have said to Eve: you’re the only girl in the world for me!”
    The Bible says “Rejoice in the wife of your youth”
    Dating was fun, so marriages should also make time for fun.
    The vicar gave a talk on “sex” (marking it as “sailing“)
    The Man’s Guide to Female English (never say what they mean); The Woman’s Guide to Male English (it all comes back to sex).
  4. Resolve
    A recent marriage, the couple took a small candle each, lit a large candle, then blew out the small candles, signifying that there would be no more “old flames”.
    J John called for all to value marriage, remaining loyal, proving faithfulness to each other.
    Life has all seasons, including its “winter seasons”.
    “Trying times are not the times to stop trying”
    “Treat disasters as incidents, not incidents as disasters.”
    Arches are made of 2 weaknesses, which lean against each other for strength.

To start: admit that need God and his help, as he created us, marriage, sex, etc.

A Proposal?
Every page of the Bible is a proposal to you… God’s present to us was pinned to a Cross, and he doesn’t woo us with perfume, but with blood, sweat and tears.

If you wanted to see a past series on DVD, see here.

Categories
Life(style)

The Big Sleep Out: Winchester

Winchester: 15th May 2009

Do you feel inspired to sponsor these people who are CHOOSING to spend a night out in the cold, in the aid of those who feel they have no choice?

I’M NOT ASKING FOR BIG AMOUNTS, BUT IN TUNE WITH THE IDEA THAT SMALL CHANGES ADD UP TO BIG CHANGE(S), AM LOOKING FOR 50 PEOPLE TO SPONSOR ME WITH £2.00 EACH… of course you can pledge more if you wish… I’m just looking to get lots of people involved/raise awareness, etc.! If you’d prefer to give me the money offline, that’s fine too…
http://www.justgiving.com/drbexl

Companions: Amanda Henocq Charly Norton, been chatting to Martin Tod on Twitter about it, and also from the University The Sleepy Heads!

About the charity : Winchester Churches NightshelterWinchester Churches Nightshelter
Big Sleep Out: a fundraising event in Winchester Cathedral Close, in aid of Winchester Churches Nightshelter and Trinity Winchester. Both charities are extremely stretched by high demand and need your help; so do their guests, those sleeping rough and the hidden homeless. Please support us.

Winchester Churches Night Shelter offers an essential lifeline to the homeless, providing high quality food and shelter and a secure support network offered to address problems and re-develop life skills. We are the only direct access accommodation for the homeless in Hampshire, and a vital first port-of-call for our guests. Our team of professional support workers and staff is focused on helping guests move into sustainable, long-term accommodation and escape the homelessness cycle for good. Further details: www.wcns.org.uk

Trinity Winchester is a day time drop-in centre that provides services for those experiencing the effects of homelessness, vulnerable housing, problems with substance misuse, mental health issues, poverty, unemployment and social isolation. Further details: www.trinitywinchester.org.uk
Charity Registration No 1080443

[Addition on the day: Please help get my sponsorship up to £100! It’s raining, and we either sleep outside, or we sleep in the Cathedral – which will be FREEZING (a hard stone floor)… Every penny counts]