We had a film night at church tonight. We watched the Christian film, The War Room, which I had never seen. (Hence, it was NEW to me).
I did enjoy it but found its lack of subtlety difficult, and as my friend, JH, said, the ends were all very neatly tied up, rather unrealistically.
I found this review from The New Yorker interesting: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/the-sanitized-christianity-of-war-room
I went to my first ever session of Celebrate Recovery this week. It’s a Christ-centred 12 step programme for anyone with ‘hurts, hang-ups or habits’ that are holding them back in life.
I’d been thinking about going for a while and a guy from my divorce group suggested that I give it a go. A lot of people think it’s just for addicts and alcoholics but that’s not the case. Anyone who’s battling with various issues (and who isn’t?) is welcome. Some examples would be: perfectionism, debt, guilt, divorce, anger, abuse, insecurity, gambling, anxiety, emotional abuse and other abuses, overspending, coming form a dysfunctional family, grief – plus lots of other things.
I realised that I do suffer from some low self-esteem issues emanating from childhood, my long-term illness and the divorce. Also, I think I have a tendency to co-dependency. Not like I used to but it could still be an issue. I know I am not experiencing as much joy in my life as I used to and these things are barriers to joy or freedom.
Not sure how much I can commit to the course (it runs for a year and some people go for many years) but I’ve at least made a start.
I’ve been rereading some T S Eliot recently. Studied him at uni. Have loved ‘The Wasteland‘ ever since. I have found the passage that alludes to the Road to Emmaus very moving lately. It comes near the end of the poem. The hope of new life after the dry, dry desert, the monotony and banality of city life… and then some! I love that bit about ‘the white road’:
Robert Zünd, 1877 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
“Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapped in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
–But who is that on the other side of you?”
On the way back from church – a distance of about 150 yards – we met a tall, rather posh, very good-looking man in his 30s. He was wearing a blue shirt, shorts and a Panama hat. Now, if you knew my home town you would be agog to see such a man. I mean, man, we are talking Rough Town of England.
“Can you help me, please?” he asked. “I’m afraid I am a little lost. I’m looking for the Travelodge.” (Budget motel).
He had no car, no luggage, yet looked very clean and respectable. We gave him directions.
“What on earth is someone like you doing in this town?” I laughed.
“I’m travelling around the country,” he replied affably. We burst out laughing. He complimented our countryside. Anyway, we wished him well and off he went happily.
“Didn’t he look like Jesus?” I said to my mum. “Or how you would imagine Jesus to look like now.”
“He did a bit. Mind you, if Jesus was travelling round the UK he would choose to stay at the Travelodge,” my mum reasoned.
I had to agree. It was all very strange. Pleasant, but strange.
Memorial Park Cemetery, Padiham, Lancashire, England. 1st August 2013. By Craig Simpson.
Simpson’s work just gets better and better. This is a full-focus version of the image that appears as part of the header to this blog on occasion. Marvellous.
Shipibo Ceramics (Photo credit: Howard G Charing)
Over the hot Summer we aim to do different things in Life Group. We had a BBQ last month and tonight one of our group talked to us about her missionary work in Peru. Fascinating. Even more so, I think, because the speaker is one of the sweetest people you are ever likely to meet. Talk about not pushing yourself forward! Being an ever-curious character I asked her loads of questions to help draw her out (as did some of the others).
Hearing about the life of a missionary in Peru would be interesting on the radio but when it is someone you know, and they are in the room with you, it totally brings it to life.
English: Matt Wootton, 2005.
Someone I know, an acquaintance I am very fond of, has gone missing at sea, feared lost in a storm. You can be very fond of an acquaintance, I think. They are someone you simply warm to and wish to know better.
I only found out the news via Facebook when a newspaper’s reporter asked if I could help with information about Matt, 35. (Am blowing my anonymity here but what the heck…)
I’d been following Matt’s journey via social media for a year or two. I was astounded that this formerly pale-faced, shy boy was now a bronzed, toned confident explorer, having an absolute blast as he travelled the world without using aeroplanes for environmental reasons. I sincerely hope he and the other crew members are found. Hopes are fading, it seems. I can’t stop thinking about this.
Funnily enough I was reading and making notes last night, from Tim Keller’s book where he discusses Jesus calming the storm, never dreaming that I’d be reading today about a storm not calmed while someone I know was amid it.
One of Matt’s close friend’s has sung this song for Matt… I don’t know it but here are some of the lyrics:
Cast your eyes on the oceanCast your soul to the seaWhen the dark night seems endlessPlease remember meThough we share this humble path, aloneHow fragile is the heartOh, give these clay feet wings to flyTo touch the face of the starsBreathe life into this feeble heartLift this mortal veil of fearTake these crumbled hopes, etched with tearsWe’ll rise above these earthly cares.
English: Delirious? in concert at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Another great night at church. I never thought I’d be as fired up about going to church as I used to be about going to gigs!
Plenty to think on. As we were singing I was aware, partly through doing this blog and those who follow it, of all the Christian people across the country (and the world) coming together to pray and sing and worship at 6.30pm (UK time) – when most UK services seem to take place. A powerful, uplifting feeling.
The pastor spoke about repentance this evening – a subject I have just blogged on.
I received my copy of World Service by Delirious? yesterday. My Christian mentor had lent me the original copy and I had had to return it – along with the Touched By an Angel DVD set and various other resources. I absolutely flippin’ love this album. I love its sheer musicality combined with the uplifting, expansive music and lyrics totally do it for me.
Pastor 3 has commented on his blog about “Jesus as boyfriend” devotional songs. I guess that idea ties in with luscious pictures/paintings of Jesus that render him as some sort rock star or romantic love object. And I suppose my number one song of the moment – ‘Inside Outside‘ – is a little on those lines in that it can read as a love song for a person or ‘Love Song for a Saviour’, as Jars of Clay would have it. But I simply adore it. In fact, I am listening to it now, like the repetitious lunatic I am…
I just came across these jokey, pseudo-song titles on one of my my pastor’s blogs. I think they are hilarious but as an Exploring Christian I did wince somewhat – some of these titles kind of ring true for me sometimes!
Above Average is Thy Faithfulness
Be Thou My Hobby
I’m Fairly Certain That My Redeemer Lives
Joyful, Joyful, We Kinda Like Thee
My Hope is Built on Nothing Much
What an Acquaintance We Have in Jesus
When Peace, Like a Trickle. . .
When the Saints Go Sneaking In
Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following
Songs We Sing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cover of The Chieftains
Not all the songs we sing in church belong to the CCM stable – Contemporary Christian Music. Today I was delighted that ‘Be Thou My Vision‘ made an appearance. I’ve long loved this song as it appears on the Van Morrison album Hymns to the Silence, which I bought on its release in the early 1990s. Performed with The Chieftans.
History Maker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Delirious? have done it again. They’ve grabbed me with this 1996 corker, History Maker. I really should start living in this century, huh?!
“Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake?
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you
Is it true today that when people pray
We’ll see dead men rise
And the blind set free?
Yes it’s true and I believe it
I’m living for you
I’m gonna be a history maker in this land
I’m gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I’m gonna stand, I’m gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again
Well it’s true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We’ll see miracles, we’ll see angels sing
We’ll see broken hearts making history
Yes it’s true and I believe it
We’re living for you
Written by Martin Smith ©1996 Curious? Music UK
Franciscan Allegories: Allegory of Obedience (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The subject was discipleship, and linked to that, obedience.
Quotes: “Maturity is what you do with what you know.”
Us: “God, why did you not guide me?” God: “Well, I did, you just did not do what I asked you to do.”
Motivators for obedience include the ‘not good’ ones:
- Pastor said so. “I must obey” (robot voice.)
- Guilt. I really should try to be a good person. I can’t stand X but if I am a good Christian I should be nice to them. Cue gritted teeth.
- Self-satisfaction. I’m such a great person ‘cos I go to prayer meetings. The pastor saw me at that church do so I’ll earn some points.
- Fear. If I don’t obey I’ll be punished/bad stuff will happen to me/ I’m too scared to not obey.
- The last reason is the reason to obey: ‘Cos Jesus himself obeyed when he really did not want to. The command from God was to die on the cross. He faltered. But he focused and submitted to his father’s will and thus fulfilled the ‘mission’.
From one of the pastors at my church:
Latin – ‘mandatum’; command or mandate. Jesus said:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
Niels Larsen Stevns: Helbredelsen af den spedalske, Healing of the Leper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I tackled one of the questions for Life Group. Here is what I came up with.
Are you an affectionate person? Why| why not?
I am a very affectionate, demonstrative person. This was not always the case.
As a teenager and undergraduate I used to find it hard to express my love and appreciation for people in my life. I longed to hug them but was too self-conscious to do so.
However, I decided to ‘act as if’. This strategy means acting as if you already are an affectionate person (or whatever character trait you wish to develop). So I forced myself to start hugging people. It felt false and awkward at first but before long it became totally natural. I am now a hug addict. I introduced hugging to a younger friend who reminds me of myself at her age . At first she was awkward too but now she hugs me freely!
Appropriate touch is such a powerful healer and the hug is friendly, and done properly, nonthreatening. For the single, separated and divorced person hugs and touch are vital because we are just not getting that ongoing level of physical connection that studies prove lowers stress levels and make us feel connected to others.
I read a hugely moving piece in the book Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado this week. He writes a scenario where he imagines the heartfelt thoughts of the leper that Jesus healed. In other words, he writes the story we don’t get to read in the Bible. He writes with such insight into what it must have been like to be a leper in New Testament times. It is hard for us to envisage just how much of an outcast the leper was. He was feared and reviled much as the AIDS sufferer was in the 1980s, before the advent of drugs to treat HIV. (Not saying that drugs are a cure-all and that the problem is not still extremely significant.) The leper wanted to be healed – but more significantly he wanted to be touched because touch meant acceptance. Jesus did not hesitate, moved towards the leper, touched him and healed him.
Loving (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here are the study notes for this week’s Life Group. I will be absent again but will have a bash at some of these questions, though I have left it a little late this week…
TITLE & PASSAGE:
Joseph: “A Fruitful Life” – Family Man – Genesis 45
REFLECTION: remembering the main points
DISCUSSION: helpful questions
- What is the greatest challenge in your family life today?
- How do you react to the challenges in your family life?
- What surprises | encourages you in this passage?
- If you would have been Joseph – how would you have reacted?
- Are you an affectionate person? Why| why not?
- What was the root cause of Joseph’s surprising affection?
- How did Joseph’s theology affect his family? How can you theology affect your family?
- ‘Jesus is the better Joseph – we need to move from imitation to invitation’. Discuss.
APPLICATION: ideas that work
Think of 5 things you can do as a small group to foster an environment of greater support for family pressures. Then spend some time praying that the Holy Spirit will make your group a place of genuine practical loving care.
St Mark writing his Gospel (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)
Pastor W bought me a book last week. He just bought it for me from Amazon! That’s how kind these people are. He said it was really helping him and he thought it would help me too. It called King’s Cross and is by Timothy Keller. It’s a terrific read, looking at Christ via Mark’s gospel. I studied Mark’s gospel through a great course called Christianity Explored last year.
I may frustrate some readers by not going into detail about my thoughts and insights on all this stuff I am reading. The reasons are simple: this type of material is fresh to me. Just reading it is quite a challenge, not because I am insanely thick but simply ‘cos it’s NEW. I am not so arrogant as to set down my thoughts on everything I read when I am only just coming to work out what it is I am reading myself. Does that make sense?
I am reading a couple of chapters a night of King’s Cross. It is an exciting read. Maybe when I get more used to reading material of this nature my critical faculties will work more acutely.