J John, Week 3: “Prosper with a Clean Conscience”

Do Not Steal

Just 10 Winchester is into it’s 3rd week already, and again J John put across an uncompromising message in a humourous way! He’s not getting at us, he’s joining us in the daily challenge to live according to God’s laws within a contemporary living space.

J John opened his challenge that stealing tends to smart small (often in the workplace), but tends to get bigger.

Ron Heather: Bus Driver
The interview this week was with Ron Heather, the bus driver from Southampton who risked losing his job in refusing to drive a bus with the Athiest poster “There’s probably no God: Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life”, as he felt it was against his conscience (see what Theos thought). He knew his customers well, many were elderly, he felt this message wasn’t appropriate – and he was more worried about upsetting God than upsetting his bosses! The ensuing fuss gave him many opportunities for conversations with his supportive colleagues!

The Yorkshire Sketch
Every week this “elderly couple” from “Yorkshire” find interesting ways to break the commandment… this week the reasoning is that if there was a 2-for-1 offer on last week, but not this week, the shop wouldn’t mind if he bought one/pocketed the other!!! Hmmm…

Back to J John
J. John bounced back onto the stage, but opens on a sombre note… many of us have been casualties of theft (J John has had his coat stolen whilst he was preaching in the past!), and financial crime in the UK costs £29 billion per annum (and he wasn’t talking about MPs expenses!), with over a million reported burglaries every year. How many of you still have the Gideon New Testament give to you at school? The Gideons give away 20 million Bibles a year, of which they are pleased to say 22,000 are stolen every year!

Define Stealing: “Taking something which belongs to someone else”… and there are so many different ways to describe this in the English language that it’s clearly a big problem! God is against dishonesty and demands fairness in everyday work:

  • Don’t cheat/swindle when buying/selling
  • Avoid false advertising (e.g. “Ideal DIY opportunity” = needs complete overhaul)
  • Don’t quote for unnecessary jobs (if it’s going to just need a small part, just quote on that!)

The Inland Revenue estimate that £5000million per annum is lost in undeclared taxes/monies, with many justifying it on the basis that the government “takes too much and wastes what they have”, but “if your ship ever comes in, the IR will be there to help unload it!”

Employers: Don’t cheat your employees; don’t take advantage; teach people what is right & fair’ don’t manipulate.

Employees: Obey, not only when their eye is upon you, but when they are not looking. Why is it that the majority of sick days are on Friday/Monday?!

A large cause of inflation is these (seemingly minor, but mounting) costs, which are then passed onto the consumer.

What is the 8th commandment?

“You shall not steal” not “You shall not steal more than £1 at a time” (or borrow something without any intention of returning it).

What is the biggest item of theft?

TIME: “How little can I do for how much?”. J John spent a summer trying to cut grass in slow motion whilst taking endless tea breaks for an employer who kept telling him to “slow down”! I guess this is where there needs to be trust between employer (that the employee will do the work) and the employee (who has to trust that the employer won’t take advantage, expecting him/her to work at a high pace all the time if they’ve managed it once!)

Do for others what you would like them to do for you: how do we apply this to life?

  1. By working
    Work leads to profit, talk leads to poverty (not necessarily talking about waged work)
    Too many people are keen to move the piano stool when there’s a piano to be moved
    Most people are keen to avoid hard work and would rather ‘pick the lock’
    The only place in which success comes before work is in the dictionary.
    Don’t count the days, make the days count.
  2. By saving
    Good planning & hard work lead to prosperity (not that he was peddling the ‘prosperity gospel’ or at least I hope not!); hasty short cuts lead to poverty (Jesus commended the wise investor).
    Each of J John’s children were provided with 3 money tins: “Spend” “Save” “Give”
  3. By praying
    God loves to give gifts, even more so when we ask him.

Generosity & Guilt
The Earth and everything in it belond to God, we only have it on loan: God loves us into change, he doesn’t beat us into change!

What do we do with guilt?

  • Deny it?
  • Deflect it?
  • Drown it? (with drink/drugs/experiences)
  • NO: Dissolve it in the blood of Jesus.

Always a sticky subject, some think the church is only out for our money! Do we cheat God in our offerings? Do we think that God is happy with the occasional 50p that we give him, the Bible clearly states 10% (joyfully given in the expectation that God will provide).

When J John became a Christian aged 17, he decided to take back a couple of books he’d stolen froma book shop. The Director asked him for an explanation and asked if he realised that he could call the Police… and was then surprised when the owner told him he was “free to go”… felt totally liberated!

The Amnesty Bins
Next week, J John is wheeling out the Amnesty Bins. He set a challenge that if we’ve stolen something we return it to its rightful owners in the coming week… and if that is not possible, then what we stole (or its equivalent value) can be placed in the amnesty bins on the way out (what is given is either thrown as rubbish, returned to original owners if accompanied by an ‘anon’ note, given to charity shops, or given to homeless shelters – not a single penny taken in admin!). The first time he did this one man placed £102,000 cash in the bins, another week, a man took his shirt off on the way out!

Let’s Get Practical: Have you ever:

  • Made an over-inflated/false insurance claim?
  • Called in sick when you weren’t?
  • Taken office supplies?
  • Used expenses for personal use?
  • Defrauded on your income tax
  • Left a debt unpaid
  • Borrowed books without returning
  • Taken hotel bathrobes (he’s always surprised by how many of these he gets!)
  • Copies of software?
  • Have you stolen from God?

Have you felt violated by theft?
You need to forgive those who have stolen from you:

Forgive & Forget, not Remember and Regret!

Be Transformed, Not Informed
The purpose of Just 10 is not to listen/be informed, but to subject yourself “to the Lord’s searchlight”, and reach out for forgiveness, and so be transformed! Will you?

J John says “tell your story“.


J John: Hold to the Truth

In with the Quips

J. John started in fine style again… with a story about someone in a store who’d just said to the customer “we don’t have it”. The Manager bounces in, assures the customer that it was ordered 2 weeks ago, and when the customer has gone, asks the employee what they wanted…. “Rain”!
Video Clips
An interesting compilation of video clips, asking those in London if they thought it was acceptable to lie… the general consensus appeared to be that it’s natural to lie, particularly if it’s to protect someone!
Chris Kilby
Formerly a drug-addicted member of a band, Chris Kilby now heads up Life Church in Southampton, and was interviewed by Claire Carson about how honesty, integrity and faith are central to his life now… and nothing has ever made him as happy as God, and is continually asking God to remove anything that is in his way/prevents him geting closer.
Lies Lies Lies
  • “One Size Fits All”
  • “We’re on our way”
The inventor of the lie-detector said that people basically tell lies… as kids do when they insist they haven’t had biscuits (mouth surrounded by crumbs!)
We live in a society of “truth decay”. 
Do you lie on your Job Application?
As a research project, a job was advertised for electricians who were specialists in ‘Sontag Replicators’. They received 179 applications, although there’s no such thing… 
4 students who didn’t turn up for their morning’s exam (citing a flat tyre) were surprised to find their teacher so relaxed. She offered them a chance to retake the test. Sitting the 4 of them in corners of the room, she said “Answer me this question…… which tyre was flat?”
Tongue Twisters
The tongue, a small instrument, capable of enormous damage!
The “sermon on the mouth”.
Bette Middler famously said “I don’t know how much of what I say is true”… it’s become so normal in society to lie… in journalism, facts are not checked, etc.
Careless Talk Costs Lives
Gossip Ruins Lives: 
  • “Hearing something you like about someone you don’t”
  • All the detail, no facts
  • Travels fastest over a sour grapevine
If someone says “I probably shouldn’t tell you this”, I’d suggest “Don’t then!”
The Bible Warns Us Against:
  • Gossip
  • Slander (malicious untruths with the intention of doing harm)
  • Flattery (say to a person’s face what you wouldn’t say behind their back)
Show more GENUINE appreciation, don’t flatter
Steps to Improve
  1. I need to examine my heart (what comes out of the mouth reflects this)
  2. I need to refuse to gossip (listen more, talk less, if you’re not willing to sponsor it with your name, don’t say it)
Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean!
Say it if:
  • Is it true? Yes!
  • Will it benefit anybody to say it? Yes!
“Prove to Me God Exists”
Confusing between:
  • Maths (rational)
  • Science (hypothetical)
  • Personal (valid)
God is PERSONAL, to be experienced, not proved. It’s like trying to describe a kiss (personal) as an exchange of molecules (rational/scientific)!
The Blackboard
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” – was there ever a bigger untruth?! Names stick “on the blackboard of life”. Jesus comes not to rub it in, but to rub it out!
Get to Jesus via “Kings Cross”. 
Embrace the healing you can get by refusing to believe the lies that others have told you about yourselves… (whether intentional/unintentional)

Better Late Than Never
Before J. John is on stage again tomorrow night, with “Prosper with a Clear Conscience”, I wanted to get this belated blog up. Week has been filled with job interview, applications, and some time out!

J John: Find True Contentment

Winchester Just 10 (Wed 22nd April)

J John, famous entertaining Greek, has come to Winchester! Last night was the first in a series of 10 evenings addressing the 10 Commandments from a modern and applicable perspective. Beautiful music, and regular laughter also accompanied the talks, along with a guest spot from Linvoy Primus.
Introducing the Series
The 10 Commandments are not an exam “attempt 5”, and this series is a chance to give our lives an MoT… only we can decide if we need a new spark plug or a whole new car! Re-assess the values and principles that underlie all our relationships: life, relationships, community and work.
As the list of commandments is generally framed as ‘do not’, this series reframes them in a positive way, with positive steps we can make to change our lives, so for this week “Do not Covet” becomes “Find True Contentment”.
Memorable Quotes
  • We’re never so perfect as when we’re on a CV.
  • The biggest room is the one for improvement.
  • Yearnings always exceeed the earnings
  • There are 3 classes: the haves, the have nots, and the have not paid for what they have.
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!
  • We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.
  • In the rat race of life, if you win, you’re still a rat.
  • We lose our health to make money, then spend money to sort out our health.
  • If you cannot have the best of everything, make the best of what you have.
  • Money/wealth are not evil, it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.
How do you find contentment?
  1. Be grateful for what you already have, have “an attitude of gratitude”.
  2. Recognise the limitations of wealth (those who have money will never have enough)
  3. Focus on people, not possessions. “If we love people, we’ll use things, if we love things, we’ll use people”.
  4. Look beyond what is temporary (70 years is but a blip on the eternal screen)
  5. Be a giver (was often give to charity what we CAN afford, how about giving to someone who can’t give back?) “What can we do to live simply that others can simply live?”
  6. Find our security in Jesus Christ. (it doesn’t matter how creased/dirty a £20 note is, it’s still worth £20, if you’re not sure HOW to let Jesus become your life manager, ask him to break the door down).
Next Week
“Hold to the Truth” (See the Just10 Website)