Yet Another Welcome

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This time to MyLordMyFriend. That’s 45 followers that I know of, since January, including three friends who follow by email – but I don’t know true figures cos you can follow by email anonymously so there might be the odd one or two more. 

 

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Boundaries and the Single Pastor

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Boundary

Boundary (Photo credit: ank0ku)

Of the three pastors at our church, two are married and one is single.

For the Single Pastor I bet there are occasionally tricky times regarding women in the congregation. He has to maintain an appropriate distance from them. He is in a position of power, in that he is a ‘leader’. His sermons are powerful so it might be easy for someone to think that the pastor is talking to them specifically. It can feel like this with any of the sermons, of course, but this is not the case. All sermons are generalised when you really listen to them. But if you are susceptible or vulnerable it might be easy to project feelings onto any of the pastors, but especially a single one.

With this in mind I am very self-conscious when communicating with Single Pastor ‘cos I harbour a horror of being seen as some sort of vampiric woman of a certain age just itching to sink my teeth into a single man. I tend to communicate with Single Pastor wholly by electronic means, and even them I’m wary!

It’s shame, though, ‘cos I suspect (though don’t really know) I have things in common with  Single Pastor. I’ll hug the married pastors with gusto (usually in full view of their wives) but with the Single Pastor – I have to keep that boundary there.

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Choices Notes for Life Group

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TITLE & PASSAGE: 
Joseph: “A Fruitful Life” – Choices – Genesis 50

REFLECTION: remembering the main points

  • Joseph chose Commitment over Comfort: 1-14 > How committed are you?
  • Joseph chose Surrender over Self: 15-19 > Who is on the throne in your life?
  • Joseph chose Faith over Fear: 20-26 > How much do you trust Him?


DISCUSSION: helpful questions

  • Do you enjoy taking decisions or not?
  • What are some of the important decisions we take in life?
  • If you were to highlight what you learned from this sermon series, what would it be?
  • Could Joseph have chosen a different way? How would it have looked?
  • In what areas of our lives is our commitment challenged by comfort?
  • How do we cultivate a life of faith?
  • What are the signs that my life is surrendered | not surrendered?
  • What does ‘Jesus is the better Joseph’ mean?


APPLICATION: ideas that work

Which of the 3 areas do you struggle most: faith, surrender, commitment? Take time to share in 2-3′s as you pray for one another to make smart choices.

Male Friend on Same Wavelength

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Cuba phone

 (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Had a good phone chat with a male friend from church last night. He is more knowledgeable than I am regarding religious matters but he’s seemed to be on a similar wavelength throughout. He has been my point of sanity for when I hear something in church from some other members that I find just too ‘out there’ or does not tie in with my beliefs. I can turn to this friend to discuss it.

Another pal, female, came round on Saturday. She said that our church is actually quite fundamental in its beliefs but more liberal in its pastoral care. This is what I have found. I sometimes think this church is not 100% for me but I know that the people and the way the church runs is for me. With so many members and service attendees there is plenty of scope to find diverse opinions and people who one chimes with – and those you don’t gel with.

My challenge now is to balance my church activities with my non-church activities. When a church feels like a family it is easy and tempting to devote all your spare time to it and the people there but we function in a wider society so it is crucial, IMHO, to engage with that society and keep up with your other friends and activities too.

 

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More Questions…

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Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit (Photo credit: Glass.Mouse)

Last night’s talk at church on the Holy Spirit… We must let the Holy Spirit do its work in our lives and try not to control our lives or others. But does this mean we have to be passive? I don’t think it means this at all but it is surely a fine line we must walk between being proactive and responsible citizens and letting go and trusting in a higher power to work things out for us.

I’m facing frustration is so many areas of my life I hardly know where to start. I’m trying to let the HS do the work but I’ve also got to put some effort in too!

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VIP for the First Time

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Church-of-the-Holy-Spirit-Jihlava2011

Church-of-the-Holy-Spirit-Jihlava2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I went to VIP last night. I can’t remember what the V.I.P. initials stand for but it was at the church. Some singing, a prayer then a seminar led by the lead pastor. The subject was The Holy Spirit.

Thursday night, and the little church (it is tiny) was packed out –  60 or so people there. Some churches can’t garner that number for a main Sunday Service.

I have come to realise that each church ‘event or group attracts a different vibe and different sorts of people.

Morning Service: 200+ people. A total of 348 last Sunday, apparently. The most welcoming service with chance to chat and have a brew (coffee/tea for you non-UK folk). Takes place in the local High School.

Evening Service: 50 or so people. In the church. Less formal. Trains go by!

Life Group: A real mix of people. Four of us are from the Divorce Group.

The there are other meetings that I have not been to. For example, there is a prayer power hour at 8.30am every Saturday. The Men’s Breakfast seems popular too as does the Ladies’ Brunch. You could go to something every day at our church if you had the time the energy and financial freedom to do so!

 

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I Would Be… Frail

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Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada.

Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A quote I found on the web about the song ‘Frail‘ by Jars of Clay from Much Afraid.

“I always considered this song to be one of the most perfect examples of audio melancholy I had ever heard. It never failed to move my mood to a contemplative hue. Now that I am no longer a christian and very opposed to that religion, I still find myself listening to Jars of Clay. I have ceased to listen many other Christian artists I used to like, such as Steven Curtis Chapman, Audio Adrenaline, etc  For me, Jars of Clay have always been the real deal. When all their peers have been making lackluster sounds with mediocre boring lyrics, Jars of Clay has always had a great sound with killer poetry infested lyrics.”

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Touched by an Angel – Mawkish But Addictive

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"Touched" By An Angel

“Touched” By An Angel (Photo credit: grahamurray)

During my house arrest I have been watching the full box set collection of the US series Touched by An Angel, lent to me by a church friend. I had never seen this series before. It ran  for what seems like a million years from 1994 until the early 2000s.

I must admit when I first started watching it I thought, “Yikes, this is mawkish” but with lack of anything else to do I stuck with it. It has moved me and it does deliver what seem to be healthy messages about God and faith. There’s nothing about vengeance or small-mindedness here.

Basically, three angels – Monica, a case worker angel, Tess, her supervisor, and Andrew, the Angel of Death – help people with various challenges or situations. There is no stone unturned (except homosexuality, as far as I can see. The programme makers must have balked at that one…)  when it comes to problems and issues – alcoholism, drug addiction, cults, pride, greed, AIDS, we’ve had ’em all.

It started out low budget but as the series became more popular it was able to garner more glamorous locations, explosions and famous stars. We had Maya Angelou and Natalie Cole in the AIDS episode and Kirk Douglas in the brain tumour tale.

However, it has caused me to laugh at times – at things they don’t want you to laugh at. The Angel of Death has to assume a suitably lugubrious expression: hard to do when you are riding on a cable car in the snowy mountains. And the angels have to take on every job imaginable, which, of course, God ensures they can do effortlessly. So we have had Military Monica, Journalist Monica, Doctor Monica, Monica the Cop, Monica in the Mountains…

Every episode features The Great Reveal: “I am an angel, sent from God. And he wants you to know that he loves you so very much.”

By episode 100,072 (sorry, Episode 8) I could almost write the script for them!

But seriously, it has been a real comfort to watch something uplifting and sometimes inspirational. Millions of other people must have thought so too cos it was nominated for tons of  Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and so on – and probably won some too.

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Finishing Well – Life Group Notes

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The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb (Photo credit: born1945)

Joseph: “A Fruitful Life” – Finishing Well – Genesis 47:28- 49:33

DISCUSSION: helpful questions [Choose one or more of the following]

 

  • REFLECTIONS ON THE PASSAGE: Read Genesis 47:28 – 48:22 & discuss insights or questions that come to mind.
  • FINISHING WELL DESPITE BEGINNING BADLY: List some of the mistakes Jacob made in his early life. When & how did Jacob change to begin to function differently? See Genesis 32:22-32
  • COMPLEX FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: Jacob had a very complex family yet at the end of his life he felt it was his responsibility to warn the next generation of things to come. How can we earn the right to speak & is there a right & wrong time to speak?
  • END OF LIFE PLANS: What thought have you given to your last days on earth & how you would like others to remember you? How would you like your epitaph to read? Swedish Chemist Alfred Bernard Nobel who invented dynamite wanted to be remembered for something more positive so left the bulk of his fortune to fund Annual Nobel prizes.

 APPLICATION: ideas that work

  • Pray for any you know who suspect that their life on earth is short.
  • Pray for those who live as if they think they are going to live forever.
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Reason, Season, or Lifetime – Wise Words from an Unknown

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English: South colonnade of the Oval Forum of ...

 South colonnade of the Oval Forum of Jerash, Jordan  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wowsers! I am on a forum for people who are under ‘house arrest‘ for the same reason that I am  (I had an operation) and, amazingly, there is one new post that has had zillions of responses in just one day.

The opening person says: “It suddenly seems that those who consider me a friend (best friend in this case), seem to care less right now. And those who are near strangers are asking how I am and even offering help.”

All those who have responded say the same thing: deserted by a so-called bestie! And it happened to me.

One poster said: “It’s admirable to take the high road and forgive, but in my heart my feelings have changed towards the person who abandoned me when I needed them. In time my anger turns to sadness and I move on but I can’t forget.”

In response someone posted up this which I think is pretty awesome:

Reason, Season, or Lifetime
People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON,
it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty;
to provide you with guidance and support;
to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part, or at an inconvenient time,
this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON,
because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it. It is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;
things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Unknown

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A Single Advantage

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Single Red Apple on Grey Stone

Single Red Apple (Photo credit: Robo Android)

I made a list of advantages to being single the other night (and another list of the disadvantages). I came up with 20 advantages.

However, by far the best was this one:

Ability to find out who you are and what you like, dislike, believe, etc.

Not saying I was a jellyhead beforehand but my ex is, by his own admission, a very opinionated person who can argue brilliantly (well, it seemed like that to me). I think I lived almost in the shadow of his opinions.  He was vociferous – that’s the word.

When you are with a vociferous partner people can assume that you think exactly as he/she does on everything – e.g., on politics. Not so. If one was previously ‘enmeshed’ with A.N. Other, it’s only when we separate out that we can begin to examine what we really do think and sort out our opinions – opinions that may have got lost or been diminished over the decades.

There are disadvantages to being single too. But that’s for another post!

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Attacked on Facebook! Meditation Causes Conflict.

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  • Meditation

    Meditation (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

    Something funny happened this weekend. I simply added a link to the Henri Nouwen daily meditations on my Facebook page and someone I know vaguely but only by email had a bit of a go. Talk about passive aggressive. The  arguer I have labelled as OP. My Learned Friend is a great woman from church who has been a big support to me these last few weeks. She has a theology degree too.

    Read on, my friends…
    “OP: I do not wish to offend anyone by saying this, but my understanding of meditation is, in simple terms, that you look inside with an open mind. Anyone who tells you what the end result of your meditation will or should be be is not teaching meditation.
  • Prayer Walker: (That’s me, folks) There are different types of meditation or perhaps the right word would be ‘contemplation.’
  • My Learned Friend: Hi everyone, glad some of you like Henri Nouwen’s writing. OP,  I am not offended but meditation can be more complex and I wonder how many of us can come with a truly open mind? I guess it is a matter of choice – what would I want to focus my mind upon. Many people have had their minds filled with all kinds of things from the past and some are really negative. I ask that if a mind is busy with negative thoughts how can it be, without great effort, become a more open space? Sometimes it is helpful to focus on another point of view or understanding to help displace the negative and I do agree with Prayer Walker – perhaps it is good to contemplate other ‘truths’ but then keep an open mind about the things we see, hear and read. Therein lies the way to choice.
  • OP: It’s just a technical point, sorry. An ancient meditation tip goes ‘If you meet the Bhuddha [sic] on the road, kill him’. It’s another layer of delusion. Anything that helps us to stop and reflect is a good thing tho, I think. To take a wider view whilst relaxed can help inner conflicts dissolve. It is rare to find any teaching of meditation, contemplation or reflection that doesn’t come attached to some wider ideological package. (The catholic package is quite complex and enstructures the suffering of certain conflicts as a tantric mechanism within a locked belief system. With spectacularly mixed results.) The three pillars of meditation are relaxation, attention / alertness and non-judgementalism. It’s a rare organisation that doesn’t like to plant a few suggestions into people while they are relaxed, attentive and suspending their judgments. The practice of hypnotherapy relies on the process. I think the Henri Nouwen practice is a variation of self-administered hypnotherapy. Or voluntary brainwashing. It seems to have worked for him.
  • My Learned friend: Strange things is that we can all get defensive about the things we hold dear and if we think that someone is trying to ‘infiltrate’ our carefully thought out ways of being. Isn’t that way wars start? Contrary to some understandings, the world is large enough to hold us all and I for one am glad that it is so.”
    Nonjudgmentalism!
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The Journey Continues

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Image from the Book of Kells, a 1200 year old ...

Image from the Book of Kells.

Had the most hideous time in a nearby town today trying to get something administrative sorted out but the upside was that I borrowed the book Love Wins by Rob Bell from the library. Just started reading it and it promises to be a winner. I know some people find Bell too ‘poppy’ and hip dude-like but that appeals to me. I could not get on with CS LewisThe Problem of Pain – found it too waffly. I will go back to it when my head is clearer but I need my writers to be clear. I trained as a journalist so that’s my level I’m afraid. Even at uni the lecturers said my essays were too journalistic rather than academic. Hey ho! But I can answers an unholy number of questions on University Challenge so I ‘ain’t thick! 

Am listening to Palestrina as I write this at quarter past midnight. Sublime.

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Life Group MOT Went Well

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She Left Me on Friday

She Left Me on Friday (Pic credit: Wikipedia)

The meeting went on much longer than usual but it seemed to be needed. One LG member suggested we also have more social evenings like going out to eat, going bowling and so on. This would be welcome.

It’s Friday night here and I pretty much always get Friday Evening Blues. This is almost certainly due to the separation.  I used to have that: “The weekend’s here, time to spend with hubby!” (even though in reality he worked a lot of weekends.)  Now, despite friends and activities, I kind of think, ‘Oh, yeah… weekend.’ It is all too easy to assume that every other person is having the Thank Flip It’s Friday feeling. But they aren’t.

At the end of each Life Group session we can request prayers for things that occurring in our lives and I requested prayer for this friend situation that seems to be going from bad to worse. I don’t think there is any way back now. I’m loathe to contact her because one can only take being rebuffed so many times. What IS the right thing to do? I just do not know. Am totally flummoxed.

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“….I bought the company”

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Cover of "Much Afraid"

Cover of Much Afraid

“I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company”. Do you remember that catchphrase/advertising slogan from entrepreneur Victor Kiam?

I haven’t bought the company yet but I have bought another Jars of Clay CD. This one is Much Afraid from 1997. Yeah, I am pretty behind the times!!

I’ll let you know how I get on with it.

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