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To Roger Tharpe and My Experiments With Sanity. Thanks for joining the ‘walk’.
Hymns to the Silence – Van Morrison
“I wanna go out in the countryside
Oh, sit by the clear, cool, crystal water
Get my spirit, way back to the feeling
Deep in my soul, I wanna feel
Oh so close to the One, close to the One
Close to the One, close to the One.”
By His Grace – Van Morrison – See By His Grace
If you don’t like bad language don’t let it put you off reading this article – cos it teaches us a lot about how we hack people off without realising it. Tackling some of these behaviours and assumptions would make the world run so much more smoothly.
As the somewhat dreaded Valentine’s Day approaches (dreaded? How I quite looked forward to this day as a Smug Married) I found fortitude in this post…
Valentine’s Day is fraught with mixed opinions and emotions. The skeptics deride it as a money sapping marketing ploy. The singles dread it as it feels like you’re walking through a city centre wearing an ‘I’m a failure and I’m frustrated’ T-shirt with everyone staring at you. The forced embracers reluctantly do something for their loved one as to avoid the ‘dog house’. And I am convinced there are some who genuinely love it and use it as a way to demonstrate their love.
It caused me to think of how often we cheapen the meaning of ‘love’. An overused word. An abused word. A precious word, in many circumstances, robbed of its meaning…
In The Fifth Element, Leeloo, gets to W in the encyclopaedia. Probably the most powerful scene in the movie is when this perfect being – a god, really – looks at war, and we see flashes…
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As in the Joseph featured in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The theme was ‘living within a family.’
Felt quite sad tonight as the others were talking about their larger families whereas I am an only child. I talked about my step-father (who died last year) as being a major influence whereas some of the others talked of people who were spiritual influences. Having said that, step-dad was very accepting and very liberal, when he was younger, and he did set me on a journey and spent hours talking to me (with my mum) about life, how I would grow and how I would move away from them, and how this would be natural.
Perhaps I should stop moping about being an Only and be thankful for the things that were great about it.
One of the most frustrating aspects of my illness is that my sleep patterns are awry, especially in WINTER. This means I always miss the morning service at my church, which is in the next town from me, because I can’t get there in time and I feel so lousy in the mornings anyway.
This is hugely frustrating because it’s the main service of the week, in a nice location and with time for coffee and chat afterwards. If I do go to a service it tends to be a night, a smaller affair, and not as sociable. But, there you go. I can’t fight my symptoms, only try and manage them as best I can. I don’t suppose God minds when I go, but I do.
It’s a hymn, isn’t it? The music is very hymn-like also. From the Invincible album, 2001.
“Your love is magical, that’s how I feel
But I have not the words here to explain
Gone is the grace for expressions of passion
But there are worlds and worlds of ways to explain
To tell you how I feel
But I am speechless, speechless
That’s how you make me feel
Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is for real
When I’m with you I am lost for words, I don’t know what to say My head’s spinning like a carousel, so silently I pray.
Helpless and hopeless, that’s how I feel inside. Nothing’s real, but all is possible if God is on my side
When I’m with you I am in the light where I cannot be found It’s as though I
am standing in the place called Hallowed Ground
that’s how you make me feel Though I’m with you I am far away and nothing is
for real I’ll go anywhere and do anything just to touch your face There’s no
mountain high I cannot climb I’m humbled in your grace
Your love is magical, that’s how I feel…But in your presence I am lost for words Words like, ‘I love you.’ “
I liked this article about choosing a church. I was talking to my friend, SB, (via text) and we said that although we don’t always agree with everything in our church we feel that this is the place we are supposed to be.
I said: “It’s like any relationship or friendship. You don’t always agree but you don’t just walk away. You need stickability.” I can’t remember if it was Liz Babbs or Carolyn Leutwiler who talks about not becoming a ‘church consumer’ but there are people who do flit from one spiritual ‘home’ to another. Maybe that is needed for some people but there is a danger of treating going to church like going to a supermarket – and again, a lot of concentration on ‘what’s right for me.’ Maybe it’s best to just settle down with one place that you feel comfortable with and see how it goes. We’ll see.
Someone asked me recently about choosing a church when moving a new area.
Here are some of (my personal) tips for choosing/finding a church.
It needs to be unashamedly Christ-centred and Christ exalting. If they talk more about themselves, their denomination and their projects – rather than Jesus – it’s not good sign…
It needs to Biblical – holding on to the authority of Scripture. Preaching and teaching God’s word vs. human ideas or ideals.
It needs to be Spirit-led – ministering in His power rather than just running activities.
It needs to be missional – reaching people with the Good News of Jesus, both through word and deed. The Good News incarnate into our communities.
It needs to love people and value community – rather than just having a life based on attending services like a gig. Small groups are a sign of health in this.
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Even if I remain anonymous I doubt it would take the ardent follower, should I ever get one, long to determine who I was as I wrote another blog elsewhere, on Blogger. That one is on popular culture. I will no doubt be cross referencing with that one from time to time. I guess I could keep other people anonymous though, the ones I will refer to, people from my church.
I came to my church by a series of coincidences. Basically, it was through a forum, based in America, for separating people. This led me to a divorce group that just happens to be in a town near me in the UK. Out of all the people in the room at that first meeting there was just me (and later another guy) who were not Christians. I was surprised at how normal, and indeed, hip, many of these divorcing people were! That sounds awful, but they looked unlike whatever my image of a Christian person was.
I did not really take on board a great deal of the Christian teaching in the seminars and DVDs but I was open-minded. Two books, self-help ones, had had a profound effect on me during the beginning of my own separation: Hope for the Separated by Gary Chapman, and Take Back Your Marriage by Bill Doherty. The latter is one of my favourite books of all time. While Bill does not openly state he is a Christian, the way he expresses himself, seems to indicate that he is. He is very focused on marriage being supported by community and he is very pro-marriage – and he also talks about how we have a view of marriage as a consumer item.
Neither of these books saved my marriage but they helped me to remain calmer during the separation. I liked the more rounded view these books present of marriage and what it means. Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson was also a good read, though I do not agree with his views on homosexuality.
For me, getting a more involved with the church has been partly about encouragement/teamwork on a spiritual, emotional and practical journey and also about connecting with decent people.
I read the book Safe People, from the divorce group library. This book builds on things I had learnt previously through counselling and other self-help books. I am the Queen of Self-Help! At this time, just months ago, I was knocking around with some people – mates, I suppose – not my close friends, who are ace, but these other people I knew from the music scene. The mates are not bad people but not what I would call ‘safe’. Many of them are delightful, but some are or were not really addressing deeper issues – and that can impact on those around them. Meanwhile, I was hearing people talk at divorce group and thought, ‘Maybe these are the sorts of people I need to spend a little more time with.’ These were people trying to get ‘whole’. They were not idiots. That was what brought me into the church first off.
Now I am trying to read as much as I can, read the Bible, and sort out my thinking.