Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Questions for God TV

What would a world without God TV look like?

This is an occasional personal hobby horse of mine, one I find hard to let go. Yet it is a difficult one to address without cynicism or appearing harsh but somehow I feel just ignoring it, which is what most of us do, may somehow mean that our silence brings validation.

1. Who is really watching it?

I know they say they have the broadcast capabilities into literally millions of homes but there is a difference from who is able to watch it and who is actually watching it. Yet when they give their big fund raising push they always mention the potential figure rather than the actual figure.

2. Why are people watching it?

I would imagine in countries that are closed to christianity it could be a good tool. If it is to closed countries why aren't there more arabic programmes? In christian countries, why would you watch it unless you couldn't get to church or church couldn't get to you? Even then is this what you really want to watch? A variety of people american accents asking for more cash and proclaiming a specific type of healing ministry!

3. Who decides the content?

It would appear to me that the content is poorly regulated, if regulated at all. There are a whole range of theologies on show, some good, some bad, but maybe thats a reflection of church in general.

4. Can TV really spread the gospel?

Personally when I read my bible I am convinced that the spread of the gospel happened when God made himself incarnate and dwelt amongst man. Or when the church moved into the neighbourhood and became his hands and feet here on the earth. I would be just as wary when it came to internet church, or discipleship via the web. It lacks the human touch, and God is all about the human touch.

5. Is it being conformed to culture or changing culture?

Doesn't it just create it's own celebrities, build up super stars and show us the lifestyles of rich and famous Christians. Doesn't feel very like Romans 12 to me, feels like it does conform to the pattern of this world.

6. If your church disappeared tomorrow would your community miss it?

If God TV disappeared tomorrow would your community miss it? Not your home group but the community that God has placed you in? The geographical location or people group you find yourself situated in, the group of people you are called to shine amongst! Would they miss God TV?

7. Does any of what you are doing relate to a younger generation?

Old men in suits, or middle aged men trying to look young, note I said men!


Monday, July 08, 2013

Events Theology

So yesterday Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, well done Andy! It only takes about 15 minutes for someone to tweet that Murray's win was a significant sign for our nation. I find myself extremely puzzled by this. How on earth can a man winning wimbledon be a significant sign for us as a nation. He is just a great tennis player who trained hard, worked his way up through the rankings and with dedication, talent and balls eventually won Wimbledon. Which made for a wonderful afternoons viewing and left us all buzzing from having seen an athlete win wimbledon for Scotland.

 I see a creeping idea that sports stars who do something remotely spiritual or even just win something soon get quoted as a spiritual sign for a nation!!!!, I think not! Why? Well because it just further shows how celebrity culture has permeated our society to the point that if the world number one tennis player prays, we make it significant! In Romans 12 it talks about not being conformed to the pattern of this world?

 Special dates, special events, special people!!!! Oh and if it is televised then obviously it is uber significant!

Please can we not see how this is so not the kingdom of God? It doesn't work like that. Last week I know a bunch of people who prayed on council estates around London, people rocking up to a prayer room at 4 in the morning to cry out to God for some deprived area of our land! I watched 5 ladies yesterday morning clean the urine infested stair well of a block of flats near where I live because they wanted to show love to the residents. A group young people worked in sectarian Derry/Londonderry last week clean and serving on the streets. Orphans got fed in Romania, Water projects got launched in Africa, Children got educated in Bolivia. Neighbours helped one another, people prayed and the kingdom was gently but forcefully extended by a serving praying church.

 Not by a man winning a tennis match.

 And if you want to say you get all of that but you feels it's a sign, a prophetic sign. What a sign? that celebrity wins, that 1.6 million pounds is a justifiable pay day, that the fact it was increased by 38% from last year shows an organisation that is in touch with reality? Frankly a tournament that sells 200,000 glasses of Pimm's, 100,000 pints of lager and 25,000 bottles of champagne over 2 weeks is a sign of something. Or here's another one Total top-50 players to have emerged solely through the British tennis structure in both the men's and women's games since 1994: one (Tim Henman). Total cash injection from Wimbledon in that period: £476m. Whats that a sign of?

 Anyway sorry for the rant, it was just a tennis match, a wonderful exhilarating tennis match, Andy murray is a great chap and I enjoyed every tension filled minute. Lets just keep a grip with reality!

Spain won the world cup then descended into recession! Greece hosted the Athens Olympics was that a sign?

 Here's what spoke to me this morning:

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

What next

Just reading some internet stuff about stepping out, hope I am not coming across like a Nike commercial with a kind of "Just do it" feel!!

I like the occasional pithy saying it helps me keep motivated...

I like these 3 statements, they resonated with me

1. If you do not go after what you want you will never have it.

2. If you never ask the answer will always be No

3. If you do not step forward you will always be in the same place


As Martin Luther King said it is also helpful:

“You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be. And one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls you to stand up for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid…. You refuse to do it because you want to live longer…. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab you, or shoot at you or bomb your house; so you refuse to take the stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are 90, but you’re just as dead at 38 as you would be at 90. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.”


Maybe I should have popped a few bible verses in as well......

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Yes but how?



I have a friend who tells me the best thought to have in mind when preparing a talk is "Yes but how?" I use this a lot when preparing a preach.

I guess when I start with this whole, life on the edge, scaring ourselves type vibe I want to ask the same question "Yes but how?"

I have words not sure I can fully verbalise them, abandonment, surrender, sacrifice, obedience

Visually the idea would be the early celtic monks getting in their small coracles and pushing themselves out to sea without actually knowing where they would end up or even if they would live.

Increasingly I think that the pattern of our world here in the UK is risk averse. Have we been conformed to this pattern. In a world of risk assessment and health and safety have we allowed that to creep into our faith. Our we becoming conformed to this pattern of the world?

When we left for Ibiza, we had two sons who were in school, people thought it was unwise to mess with their education, we didn't have a salary people thought it was unwise to move without having the full amount, we couldn't speak Spanish and we were moving to Spain that seemed unwise. We had very real fears about all of this. You know that the people who helped fuel these fears were predominantly christians!

What made us do it? I guess we had a sense that it was right but we also thought "God responds to movement" Look at various biblical encounters and you soon realise that sometimes you have to get out of the boat, move, for God to respond!

We also had a few other little thoughts like "whats the worst that could happen?". You then also need to confront the fact that you may be wrong, you may come back with your tail between your legs having failed!

In the end you have to accept this reality, deal with your own pride and ego and realise "Yes it could go wrong, but am I going to let this stop me?"

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Keepers of a gentle flame


I have just been to a wonderful event at HTB in London. For those of you who don't know HTB is the birthplace of Alpha a course for those wishing to explore christianity. So far nearly 20 million people worldwide have been on this course. At the birthplace of alpha they have just launched a permanent 24-7-365 prayer room. The Bishop of London opened it, and I was blessed to be a part of the morning.

I have been thinking about some stuff recently and felt it was time to start putting my thoughts back out there. My blogging has become a little tame and a bit sporadic. Probably due to recovering from what was the most challenging year we have ever lived through.

Anyway I keep thinking about the church on it's knees...

Why does the church need to spend more time on it's knees?

Because we can't do it on our own, we can't organise, plan and administer the growth of Gods kingdom, we can only call out with faith and fall to our knees in acknowledgement of our absolute and utter dependancy on him. 

Yes we have plans, initiatives and resources but if these are not fuelled by prayer they will be shallow expressions of a deeper reality. 

All the fires we seek to light must start with a spark of prayer, must be sustained by the fuel of prayer and when they spread they must ignite more prayer. 

The spirit of God is unpredictable wildfire yet I wonder if have we become keepers of a gentle flame?

As the church in the UK I believe we have got good at we do, we know how to connect, we know how to run an alpha course, to run good youth work, to engage with our communities, to be agents for social change and regeneration, we are in faith for more money, we apply for grants and create budgets, we ask the church for more. 

We make our stuff sexier, more attractive, slicker and if I'm honest it all kind of works, which is good and definitely an answer to our prayers. 

I can't help but feel there is another dimension that we need to access, another place. 

For me that place would be the edge! 

The edge of what? 

The edge between what we can physically do and what we can't, the edge for me is faith. The point where we have to take ourselves and our communities, the place where if it all goes wrong we'll look stupid and our elders will tell us they saw it coming. The place where we will be embarrassed if it doesn't work. We have to start scaring ourselves again. 

This is the place of prayer, it takes us to the edge, it leads us out in faith. This is Noah building a boat, Abraham on the mountain, Moses crossing the sea, Peter walking on water, or Stephen before the Sanhedrin. For me this is the edge.

I want to get on my knees because, although what we are doing is great and blessed, it is not enough.

What do we have faith for? What do we need faith for?

Just thoughts......

I want to get out on the scary edge again.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Prayer for Peace in Belfast


On the 15th December 2012, at 8.30am, a call to prayer for peace will ring out at Belfast City Hall.
People from every background and community in Northern Ireland will circle the City Hall building in a response to the trouble and the distressing scenes witnessed across our land over the past weeks.
This call to prayer is free from any political, social, organisational or denominational agenda. It is free from any motivation other than the fact that we believe in the power of God and the power of prayer to change our circumstances. We believe that God is alive and able to heal our land if we humble ourselves and pray.
It is not a protest. It is not a protest against protests. In a spirit of unity, this is an expression of prayer and blessing for our city, our politicians, our police, our society, our shopkeepers and hard pressed businesses.
We want to hold on to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board slogan that this is 'Our Place, Our Time' and pray simply and boldly for the peace and prosperity of Belfast and Northern Ireland in this season of goodwill and thanksgiving.
- We want to pray for peace to reign
- We want to pray for the return of hope
This is an open invitation to prayer and so, at this time, we have no idea as to the number of people who will turn up but we expect representatives from all branches of Christianity across Northern Ireland to take part. We have been in contact and have complied with the advice of the police by gathering at a time that will cause least disruption to local businesses and thereby cause no negative impact on this city which we love. Furthermore, we will be encouraging all those who gather to tangibly bless the city centre traders who have lost so much business over the last 10 days.
This time of prayer will be short, private, silent and reflective. It is avowedly non-political.
Please try and arrive between 8.15 and 8.20 on all sides of the city hall where stewards will help organise people into a line. At 8.30 you will hear a whistle to commence the prayer and 8.35 a whistle to end it.