We shall remember them…

From Doctor Who: The Family of Blood

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
– Laurence Binyon

A public commission for churches?

To understand the following rant, please take a moment and read this article on “Comment is Free

I was just going to call it rubbish on Twitter and be done with it, but figured I wanted to expand on it a little more then simply saying “rubbish”. I’d mostly just like to ask a few questions, based on what this dude has said:

Leaders passionately inform children and teens of their conviction that evangelical doctrines, all of which are of course highly questionable when considered soberly, are absolutely true.

So Thomas has researched all doctrines. Good start.

With the benefit of this research Thomas then rips into a few of the talks he’s watched on god.tv:

Children at Soul Survivor meetings have, for instance, been told that their generation can help bring Jesus back to Earth within their lifetimes. The “conversions” of children on the basis of such techniques is exploitative and can cause emotional pain when, in later life, it is discovered that such beliefs simply do not bear rational scrutiny. Other lessons preached at these camps are even more potentially damaging to children. At recent Soul Survivor meetings that have been featured on God TV, leaders have told young people they will be judged by God on the content of their thoughts when they die, that witch doctors can stunt the mental and physical capacities of children by cursing them, and thatJesus can heal children of medical ailments.

Now I’ve heard rumours about witch doctors, and I’m fairly sure that everything else he takes exception to is fairly basic Christian stuff…

At an Audacious event, a boy about 13 years old described how he had been healed while at a meeting of the organisation.

So…. Is he saying that the kid wasn’t healed? If so why would the kid say it? What’s really being suggested here?

Oh and just for the record, I’ve been to Soul Survivor for two years, and attended a local Christian camp for a couple of years, but I really dont think I have any emotional damage as a result.I’m also really not sure what physical damage I would have got from going along, which wouldn’t have ended up happening in some shape or form anyway.  In fact the only “damage” that has possibly been done to me is that I disagree with the writer of this article.

Besides teenagers really can make up their own minds about stuff. This guy needs to visit the youth club I help with at somepoint to see what I mean.

Thomas then ends his rant with:

The proposal that I would like to make thus falls far short of this. I believe a public commission should be established that issues non-legally binding guidelines on the forms of doctrines that it is desirable that children are taught. The preaching of hellfire or of divine faith healings to children could form part of such guidelines. Non-compliers could be “named and shamed” by such a commission.

So only what has been passed as ‘ok’ can be taught by churches? Would this apply to other religious groups as well? And who says what could be taught? I’m sorry but this sounds more like a dictatorship then a liberal society to me.

For someone who doesn’t like right wing Christians… He sounding quite right wing himself…

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

Saw this on Phil Cooke’s blog, and thought it was a good way to start the week:

Filmmaker and comedian Woody Allen famously said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” While we laugh at it, the statement is pretty accurate. “Showing up” means putting yourself in position for something to happen. I heard of a musician who bumped into a record producer in an elevator. They started talking, and when the producer asked if the musician had recorded anything, the musician whipped out his iPhone and played him a couple of cuts. The producer was impressed enough that they scheduled a meeting and eventually worked out a record deal. That musician “showed up.” He was ready and in position for something good to happen.

Far too many of us dream of big things, but don’t actually write that book, plan that project, or develop that relationship. We dream about losing weight, but never show up at the gym.

The truth is, Woody’s right. A huge part of success in any field is showing up ready to accomplish something significant. And showing up comes from the discipline to do everything you can to get yourself in position. I like how Benjamin Franklin put it: “You will find the key to success under the alarm clock.”

What is it that you need to show up for this week?

Happy Monday everyone…

Weekly Round Up

I have to admit, I did try to think of a more amusing title… I’m presuming that due to the mild case of creative fail that seems to be happening at the moment, the above was the best I could come up with…

Do you read the Bible on your phone? I have to the admit, the YouVersion Bible app for the iPhone does make Sunday mornings a lot easier by not having to balance a Bible on my lap throughout the service. It also kinda amuses my housegroup by reading from my phone instead of a traditional Bible. According to The Underground, I’m not the only one who finds smartphones the way forward in Bible reading.

On the subject of smartphones and stuff, the Alpha Course have released an iPhone app… It may interest if you happen to be an Alpha fan…

Are you a Simpsons fan? Do you remember that episode where Maude Flanders dies? Remember when Bart tries to cheers Rod and Todd by playing a “Christian” computer game with them? You may want go to the Simpsons Character Page,  select F-H, click on “Flanders, Rod”, and from there you can play “Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster”.

Enjoy 🙂

Fear in the Bible

Serious question for the Bible readers out there.

Please consider the following passage from Mark 5:

1 They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.[a] 2 When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. 3 This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. 4 For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.
6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. 7 He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” 8 For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

So… considering how the locals felt of the poor guy involved, the power that Jesus had over Legion, how much power he still has over the demon world, and how scared the locals were of Jesus when he showed his power, please can someone answer me this. How did the poor pigs feel about this?

15 Things We Can Learn From Lord of The Rings

Last night, we took advantage of the extra hour by completing the trip through Middle Earth, by watching the epic-length “Return of The King”.
As I watching it, I couldn’t help but think about the plots and characters interwoven throughout all 3 books / movies, and wondered what we could learn from them.  So here we present the Church Sofa list of things we can learn from The Lord of The Rings:
    1. If you’re going to walk in the river – make sure you can swim
    2. Don’t put all your trust in your first wizard, wait for the ‘White’ one to come along
    3. Make sure you don’t follow an insane leader
    4. Be careful if that random old uncle gives you a random ring. If he does, do yourself a favour… Lock it away somewhere safe, leave it alone, and run!
    5. They do indeed come in pints
    6. Some times you need that extra gulp of beer before you chat to the pretty bar maid.
    7. Don’t tell small people to go away, you may need them to watch your back sooner then you think.
    8. Don’t try and steal rings from little people.
    9. If a wise and trusted old wizard tells you not to touch a giant marble… Don’t touch it.
    10. Be careful when wondering in dark caves, you may want to check for any local rumours of monsters before you go in there.
    11. Does your gardener have a weird spaced out look in his eyes? If so make sure he hasn’t nicked the ring that random old uncle gave you.
    12. The night can only last so long, come sun rise you will get reinforcements
    13. You won’t always get the right man for the job – sometimes you’ll need a woman.
    14. Every now and then you may need someone to carry you.
    15. Sometimes you need things to go that badly wrong to know what you can really do.

With thanks to our fantastic Twitter followers for their inspiration.

Is there any more we could include?

Joy, Fraud, and See Through Toilets

With a title such as “Joy, Fraud, and See Through Toilets”, this can only be this weeks weekly round up:

  • After a week where some people can argue that the Lib Dems became a little bit more blue, and politics became a little less fair; its good to see the URC, Baptists, and Methodists ganging up on the government and claim foul over benefit fraud claims. Anyone know why the C of E Wasn’t involved? Read more on BBC News
  • The Blue Fish Project discusses lack of joy in older Christians, while Jon Butler looks at the need to be more child like – I’m personally already designing my new imaginary friend. Read Jon’s blog to understand what I mean!
  • The Digital Spy seems shocked that Alice Cooper believes in Demons.
  • And finally… It is rumoured that The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town has shown interest in See Through Toilets. Read the eChurch to try and figure out whats really going on!

Finding a church

So recently I moved from Bath to Exeter. Not a huge distance but certainly not close enough for me to keep going to the same church. This put me in a bit of a dilemma – how do you go about finding the right church for you?

The first question I had to deal with was why I don’t always like going to church? It’s become almost too obvious to say that men don’t like going to church, but often it’s true. I’m still not 100% on what makes me not like it, maybe I just like to have a lie in on a sunday or maybe I don’t like the idea of being preached at, though I do quite like doing the preaching. There’s lots of things it could be and maybe one day I’ll realise what it is that puts me off every so often. However me not always liking being there isn’t going to stop me going. I’ve figured that this whole following God thing seems to work best in a group!

Looking for a church is something I’d never had to do as a regular punter so to speak. I went to the church my parents when to when I was a child and continued there until I went to uni. While at uni I worked for a church on a placement and was expected there on sundays, so had never really had to find a church to go to for myself. There were a few things however that I thought were important about a church, and this is what I based my decision on, in no particular order.

  • Outward looking – they need to be involved in the community, the city/town and be concerned about engaging with real people missionally, not necessarily always focused on evangelism but working against injustice and bring glory to God in the local area.
  • The Bible as a high priority – I’ve noticed that at times it’s easy to under estimate the Bible and just take it at it’s face value, when in fact it’s a book that can entirely change your life.
  • Passionate worship – it was important to me to be in a church that passionately worships God, not just in sung worship but in everything they do.
  • A place to serve – there needed to be opportunities to serve in all sorts of areas but I do have a passion for worship leading and youth work

and now after a fairly long time of looking, trying to decide between visiting traditional churches and super charismatic churches and everything in between, I have found a church that seems right for me. It’s a free church, with all of the above, to the extent that the second time I went I was in the worship band!

The thing is, it’s not just a church that meets my ‘requirements’ . Its a  church that I feel a part of already. This is because of the welcome I’ve received, to the extent that I feel I now belong to a church that wanted me to be a part of it.