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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Random facts: divinaton

I have recently been seeking inspiration for artwork in odd places.. tonight it has been Schotts Original Miscellany', which I always find hugely funny and occasionally interesting...
So tonight I stumbled across a list of techniques of divination.
Divination being:
div·i·na·tion (dv-nshn)
n.
1. The art or act of foretelling future events or revealing occult knowledge by means of augury or an alleged supernatural agency.

2. An inspired guess or presentiment.

3. Something that has been divined.
The bible clearly tells us that divination is wrong. In my naiveity the only time I had heard the term used previously was when my dad talked about water divining...;)  So I was surprised  at the extent of this list which I won't print in full but includes:
Anthroposcopy: Observing facial features
Augury: Behaviour of birds
Osteomancy: Studying bones
Arithmancy: Analysis of numbers
Bibliomancy: Interpretatation of random (often biblical) texts
Pegomancy: looking at fountains and springs
Ornithomancy: Studying patterns in the flight of birds
Well I had no idea... all I can say is that if you are studying the flight of birds and ashes or bones to try and predict the future, then that is far more nuts than believing that a guy who rose from the dead 200 years ago can speak to us all today...
That said, in several places the bible suggest that divination does work, but just that God doesn't like it. But how muchb does he not like it? and how much do we do today that could be seen as a form of divination? forecasting the weather? future patterns in the stars, even looking at body language...
At the risk of being contraversial, one could say that prayer is divination, couldn't one? I mean speaking to a higher, supernatural force, and often hoping to discern the future in the process?  Even the word 'divine' is suggestive of God, perhaps not our God, but a God or divine being...

Prayer battles or battling with prayer...

'cold prayer' photo (c) 2008, Keith Riley-Whittingham - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Prayer is definitely a battle at the moment... and not in the spiritual warrior kind of way. I don't know why, but I seem to be going through a phase of finding it nearly impossible to pray. I mean little arrow prayers are fine but real prayer, real concerted quiet time with God, I just cannot do it. It's like my mind is battling with me. Partly I think it's because I have been too tired to get up early for my quiet time before everyone else is up, which I am really missing. And on top of that the school hols have now started so quiet time during the day is almost impossible.

But then, if I do have time I plan to sit down and pray, and I just cannot switch off my brain. I cannot focus on bible reading, my mind just wanders off, I cannot have quiet prayer time without losing track, or I start planning tonights dinner or what we will do tomorrow. I don't know maybe I just need to embrace that now is not a season for too much prayer, the kids are at home for 6 long weeks and it's not easy to find time. But at the same time I feel totally lost without it. I know people say you can be prayerful in all that you do, but for me that's just boll**ks. I really need time to just 'be' with God, to just sit in silence and be in his presence. It's like a necessity, just as eating or sleeping is. So to be without it, or to struggle with it is horrid.
I want to be chilled about this and just think it's a season, but that's like taking a holiday from God and even if that were possible it feels so wrong...






Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Danniella Westbrook & celebrity Christianity...

Thanks to Talking Christian for flagging up an article about Danniella Westbrook's recent conversion to Christianity, via twitter which has got me thinking...

So it seems that the former addict and actress has given her life to Jesus, which is wonderful. On top of that she is planning to use her celebrity status to further the kingdom, and has donated cash from her fee for being interviewed to her church.

If the reports are true then I am truly delighted for her, she has had a troubled past and now seems settled with her husband and kids in LA. The report in the Mirror is actually quite positive, amazingly so, in fact and doesn't seem too condescending abour her dramatic turn around. The Daily Mail report is far more scathing (there's a surprise), but not as bad as one would expect....

Danniella says:

“Gucci and Prada used to be my God. Now I have given my life to the Lord,” she said. “If you had told me two years ago that I was going to be Christian, I would have laughed. I used to tell people, ‘I’m way past saving.’
 
“But the first time I came to this church, I felt ­something so spiritual and amazing, I wanted to cry.
“After a few visits I found myself walking up to the altar to ask the Lord for forgiveness for my sins.
“It was an incredible ­experience. I have realised that there have been things I have struggled with, like guilt, that I would have never found a solution for. Because there are things that a therapist cannot give me – that I can only get from Jesus Christ.”

'I truly believe God has saved my life and I want to bring the message back to England and open a church there. The whole point about this church is that it is fun. There is no reason why religion has to be boring. I believe there is a gap in the UK and we can fill that gap.'

Are we interested in this? Is this just gossip for the Christian world? I am not a Mirror/Mail reader and neither do I look at the gossip mags, Hello, Ok! and all the rest. I couldn't care less what the latest celeb fad is and I hate all the trivial condemnation and judging of people because they are in the public eye. However... I have to admit that I looked at this link, and I was interested, but all it is, is celebrity gossip with a Christian edge, right?

I started writing so much about her, about the church and then I thought, man, am I as bad as the tabloid writers? I am making judgements about her and her church (not all bad I should say!), why am I doing this?! I am a Christian, she is now my sister in Christ... so I deleted the lot. I am left with this, a few observations, and a knowledge that I can be a tabloid reader too, just when it's in my kind of zone... (scary...).  and as I said I am truly delighted for her and her family.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

discernment...

So, as I approach my delayed (possibly last) meeting with my vocational advisor I feel ready for a battle! not really sure why. But I think it has something to do with the fact that I have had several people telling me over the last few months that discernment is about jumping through hoops, doing as one is expected, just to get through. This has felt totally wrong to me. I am not someone who hides their feelings. I tend to be outspoken, people know where they stand with me. I don't want to be going through this process hiding who I am. And aside from that I am not desperate to 'get through' anyway, this is about being called by God to a vocation, it is about doing His will, not furthering my own ambitions (because lets face it it's not what I would be choosing..) and being dishonest doesn't exactly fit with Gods will, does it?

I am never going to fit into the mould they want anyway - I will never be anglo-catholic (famous last words..), I will not be traditional. So why should I give them the impression that I might? I mean, I don't want to seem arrogant or not open to new ideas, because I am, totally open and hopefully not arrogant! but it seems bizarre to be going into an organisation almost pretending to be someone else. Because isn't that what it's down to? if I deliberately withold what I think, or allow them to think something about me that isn't true, then that is basically lying. I think it's fair to say that if I were in a different diocese things may be different. I may not be feeling so pressured in this way, but that is irrelevant because I am here and that is not about to change.
So I feel, approaching this meeting, that I need to be totally open with her. Obviously I won't be rude (!) but at the same time I need to be totally 'me'. I am also aware that there is a chance this may jeopardise the process, or that they will give me a heap more stuff to do on the back of it, and so it is with some trepidation that I write this, but above all, I feel that if this is Gods will, then it will happen. And I need to do this being true to myself and to my God. End of...
So tomorrow I will let you know how it went and if I am still in the process or not! wish me luck, or better still, pray!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Illness... again

Ok, so, a quick update on the whole mystery illness thing... (total aside but Martyn Joseph wrote a song called 'Celebrity' which has a great line: '...and a mystery illness to make her even sexier...' to which I will not comment ;)  )
Anyway... as I wrote a while back, all the blood results were negative, although actually what they didn't tell me was that they hadn't had the HIV result in, so I had an agonising wait while the GP called them up and proceeded to have a lengthy chat, which turned out to be about their procedures rather than my result, but all I could hear was '..yes...right,  oh, ok, right, yes....' anyway it was fine and clear so at least I know I am not suffering from anything really horrid. So today she finally officially diagnosed me with CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) no real surpirse there, and to be honest I think it was only because she had exhausted all other channels. I am being referred to the local clinic but apparently the wait is huge, surprise surprise...

I'm not really sure what it means other than a label and now I am being defined by illness which I hate, but at the same time I feel peaceful about it all.  And it's not ideal, but I am incredibly thankful it's not worse. And in a funny way it kind of gives me permission to say not to a lot of stuff, which I have been trying to do anyway. I think maybe it had to take something like this to get me to really stop. To really take a break and rest. To be still. So for now I am going to enjoy that time. I have or am giving up all regular commitments, except for one (to keep me sane!) and it feels right. So for now I am going to enjoy being a mum and housewife and enjoy having time to rest in Him. I seem to remember saying that before....

Friday, 22 July 2011

Harry Potter and Christianity: more reflections

Ok so now I have actually seen the last HP film I have more to write! Having written the last post I found myself watching the movie with a different eye and kept on noticing all kinds of Christian links throughout it. Rather irritated myself actually as I just wanted to watch it, but anyway... So now, I just feel, more than before, that there are so many opportunties for Christian teaching through the HP stories. I think also as the stories have gone on, and become much darker, they have also become less real, if that makes sense. The first book is quite tame, a nice story appealing to kids, could almost be actually happening. These later ones are much more hollywood blockbuster, huge special effects, less appealing to kids in a realistic way, so whilst I know there are critics who suggest the stories can make children interested in the occult, I think it just doesn't make sense with the later stories.

Here are a few things I noted whilst watching:

Of course there is the immensely obvious battle of good against evil that runs throughout all the stories. It has occured to me before that Voldemort could be the very incarnation of the devil. His self-serving plan to take over the world, to have people subservient to him and if they don't comply they get tortured with the cruciatus curse, or killed. It's like his followers are his little demons. In the bible, in Mathew 8 we see demons reacting to Christ, saying are you here to torture us before the alloted time? They beg not to be cast out but to be sent into the pigs. It's rather like Voldemorts followers (many of whom follow him out of fear, as we see I think with the Malfoys) begging not to be sent to him, they would rather a different awful fate than having to face his wrath.

In the last film: Deathly Hallows Part 2, towards the end we see the 'good guys' at Hogwarts desperately sending out charms or spells to protect the castle and the way they are portrayed, stood there all muttering in a strange language just made me instantly think of people praying in tongues .and as an amazing sort of shield appears to cover the school it's like they are covered in prayer, in Gods love, in his protection.

Love is a massive theme running though the books. It all begins as Harry is saved from the killing curse by the love of his mother which we see echoed throughout the movies: when Harry kills Professor Quirrell in the first book it is apparently because Quirrell can't stand to feel the love that Harry carries within him. In this last movie, again we see Dumbledore discussing the love of Harry's mother that protects him.

 Then in this movie we also see Dumbledore appearing in some sort of afterlife (made to look rather like the stereotypical heaven - lots of white and ethereal looking)  which reminded me of Christ appearing to his disciples after his own death, reassuring them, helping them. Which is rather what Dumbledore is doing here with Harry.

so, anyway, just a few thoughts. I loved the movie by the way, although I nkew the story it was edge of the seat stuff!


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

good quotes

Ok I need some help blogging friends...! I am finally being creative again after about 8 months off from all things arty. (Quite hard for an artist...)  Anyway, I've always had an obsession with fonts and text, but never really found a way to use them in my work. So now I am... but I need some inspiring, yet short, quotes that I can use in my work. I'd like to use things that could be religious but not overtly. Hinting at love for example or creation or goodness or something...! Not explaining this well but for example: 'Love is Enough...'

Any ideas? If I use your suggestion I will send you a print of the work once its done :)
thank you!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Persecution of the church

Last night I led some study on Acts 7:54-60, the stoning of Stephen. I have to admit I went off on a bit of a tack but I found the parallels between Stephens 'trial' & death, and modern day treatment of Christian prisoners in other countries quite staggering.  It is quite almost unbelievable for us in the West, that in the 21st Centruy, some 2000 years after the death of Christ (and St. Stephen) people are still being treated in this way for their faith. Organisations like Voice of the Martyrs, CSW and Open Doors show many current cases where Christians have been imprisioned without proper trial, without appeal, and in appalling conditions, simply for their faith.
The Stoning of Stephen
54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

I think sometimes people are just not in a position to hear the truth, they aren't capable, the time is not right or they are just not ready. As the Priests covering their ears in this passage above, it reminded me of my children when they don't want to hear what I am telling them. And if they really don't want to hear they shout too... Usually this is when I am telling them a painful and uncomfortable truth, like 'don't play with that you will hurt yourself' or 'you can't have another cake because it is tea time'. They don't want to hear it but they still need to.
In the King James version of v 54 above it says: 'they were cut to the heart...' And isn't that how God speaks to us? right to our hearts...  And when hearing the truth in this way, there are really two outcomes. Either one accepts it, submits to it, to the spirit; or one gets angry and refutes it. And we see how the Priests in the high council react when they hear the truth, and it's really not all that friendly...

So when I look at the cases of Christians being persecuted around the world and the horrific treatment they get, the torture and so on, it seems so similar to the way the priests reacted with Stephen. They cover their ears, yell and drive him out of town and kill him. Now we see in accounts of Christians persecuted in recent times; Judges, guards, and people in authority reacting in extreme anger to those brought before them. I understand that often the reasons people are arrested is due to blasphemy against the religion of that specific country but either way is it natural for their to be such extreme reactions?

It does put everything in perspective though doesn't it? People talk about the persecution of Christians in this country, for not being able to wear a cross to work, or having a palm cross in their van (and I am not saying we shouldn't address these things) but that isn't real persecution is it? These people are not at risk of their lives or their family lives...  They are not having to be on the move, to watch their every step... We are so lucky that in this country we can openly go to church, we can openly wear a cross (even if not at work), we can offer to pray for friends in need without fear of real persecution. I have friends who have gone to be Missionaries and I know that they are putting their lives on the line and living in secrecy., every day. I have huge and new found respect for them and what they are doing.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Sunday afternoon naps

Napphoto © 2011 Judit Klein | more info (via: Wylio)
This is from Jon Acuff at 'Stuff Christians like', made me chuckle...!

Dear Sunday Afternoon Nap,
You are so beautiful.
I want to write you haikus.
I want to petition Yankee Candle to make you into a scented votive.
I want to get you one of those greeting cards that plays music when you open it.
Mine would play “Lady in Red” by Chris de Burgh. Why? Cause at the end he whispers “I love you.” And I do, Sunday Afternoon Nap, I do love you.
There you are, hidden at the end of the week. Waiting on the last day before work begins anew. Calling softly, “Take a nap. Turn off your iPhone. Unplug one last time before the tide of the week rushes back in.”
But I ignore you all too often. I fill my days with activities and think of naps as wasteful. I watch cheesy movies on TNT, unable to break the power of such films as The Chronicles of Riddick, once I’ve watched 13 seconds. I can’t escape the couch if there’s a Vin Diesel movie on. Or, I run errands. I catch up on emails. I fill my Sundays so full that I miss you.
Occasionally though, you sneak back up on me. I get a summer cold, the most annoying coughs of all, and I am forced to take a nap. And then I’m back in your wonderland. Reunited in sleeptastic bliss.
Why do I ever forget how awesome you are Sunday Afternoon Nap?
God tried to tell us. All those years ago when he spoke about the importance of the Sabbath. It’s one of the ten commandments! Maybe the Sunday nap isn’t technically mentioned in the Bible, but I guarantee I could find it in the Message version. There’s got to be at least one reference to the “land of nod” somewhere in the Bible.
He warned us. He pleaded with us to rest. In Isaiah 30, we’re told: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” It’s so true, I usually have none of it.
I’m going to change though. I promise. I’m going to work on our relationship. I’m going to be a new man with a new plan and a pillow.
Forever yours in slumber,
Jon

It's that Isaiah ref that got me too...  'but you would have none of it..' oh man, is that me? having none of it? I am trying to turn a corner, really! After tonight I just have one commitment over the summer and otherwise I am on a break...woohoo!!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Harry Potter & Christianity...


Harry Potter has been a discussion point in our house recently and not because the last movie has just come out, but because our son is reading the first HP book. For us, we were never going to ban the books or movies as both my husband and I and our oldest daughter have read/seen them anyway, before our renewal of faith and before it was even an issue for us. So now my 7 year old is at the age when he is reading for himself, he has asked to see the movies and of course HP is everywhere. And even if it wasn't there would be something else. We feel that we cannot 'protect' him in cotton wool, or our other children. That they are in the world but not of the world. It would be foolish for us to ban them (even if we felt so inclined) as they would resent it and us, and would end up watching them with friends or when older. We take the approach that our children are brought up in a Christian home, they get Christian teaching from us and at church and we monitor what they read and see anyway so if any issues arise we can discuss with them.

I have Christian friends who would not allow their kids to watch anything witchy or wizardy including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, HP and others. I also have Christian friends who let their kids watch whatever they like. I don't think there is necessarily a right and wrong. However we do find ourselves saying to our son that he can't take the book to church (not that he would have time to read it anway!) because some people would be offended by it.

It is true that some Christians are very anti Happy Potter, even now. I was looking up some references for this post and the links below show a range of opinions, from the 'it's all satanic' to teaching Christian imagery in HP at Yale...

MTV:  In an interview for MTV, JK Rowling discusses her faith and the links between Christianity and HP.  An interesting read and one that seems to debunk any kind of Satanic theories as she herself professes to be a church going Christian.  In a reference to scripture on tomb stones, she says:
They're very British books, so on a very practical note Harry was going to find biblical quotations on tombstones," Rowling explained. "[But] I think those two particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric's Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series.

and this is a very interesting quote about her own faith..

The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return. It's something I struggle with a lot," she revealed. "On any given moment if you asked me [if] I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes — that I do believe in life after death. [But] it's something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books.

This just makes me think she is an intelligent person who is not just accepting all she hears and reads, but questions and challenges where necessary.

 
The Bible and culture blog:  This is mostly a review of the new movie, but I liked this:

Magic by definition is the attempt of humans to control forces larger than ordinary life, something humans have always been trying to do since Day One. Miracle, by definition is a top down view of things, believing God is in control and will intervene and help, even in stupendous ways at times.

Indeed, wouldn't we love it if we had our own way all the time! And actually don't a lot of us attempt to control what is around us, and yet we don't get all uppity about that do we?

e church blog: Links to another article, which is worth a read.

Ms. Neal, for her part, is not worried about anyone reading the books. Rather than being a means for corrupting the youth with witchcraft and the like, she says, "The Harry Potter phenomenon was the greatest evangelistic opportunity that the church has missed."

This quote refers to Connie Neal, an author who received death threats via email after praising the HP books back in 2001. Death threats... how Christian is that? And I agree with her too, the church has missed a trick, much of the HP series uses Christian analogy and just the fact that Harrys life was saved through the strength of his nmothers unconditional love seems a sermon in itself... and if anyone did have an issue with whether it is Satanic or not, what a great way to turn it around and use it for furthering Gods kingdom...?

Christianity Today blog: Looks at a guy who teaches theology at Yale and has taught courses around the HP books. Interesting!

and for good measure and balance, here is one that thinks HP is of the Devil...
Christian blog.com

so for now our household will be enjoying the Harry Potter series for years to come and at least I can say I have thought about it!


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Blog Stats

Blog Viewers by Time of Dayphoto © 2007 Ed Kohler | more info (via: Wylio)

It's Saturday night and I have nothing better to do than browse my blog stats... ok that's not true but I just got side tracked... and actually they are rather interesting. Because I thought the posts with the most comments would be the most popular, but apparently not...! So just incase you are interested, these are the top 10 posts from my blog (over the last 14 months or so..) Top 10 as in they received the most hits..


This came out of a post at another blog which raised concerns over a new leaflet about the subject of the title. Funny that this is the top post as it only had 2 comments, one of which is mine!

Being surprised by diappointment..

During my 'in denial' phase about being called into ministry, this post was all the objections I kept putting in the way...!

Discussing faith with an atheist!

The 'O' word... 21/09/11
more on the calling 'saga'
a very moving video...
is it ok?

Illness 26/1/11
a personal battle..
the age old question of suffering..

Speaking in tongues 29/09/10
it happened to me!
And in terms of the posts with the most comments:

Creationism vs evolution: 18 comments
Does all sin come from the devil 23 comments


I think what this shows is that theological issues and my personal issues have the most interest... so you are all either nosy voyeurs or theological debaters!
I don't think I have a favourite post but I did enjoy writing the ones about feeling called as they really helped me out personally and I really appreciated all the comments and advice.  I also have really appreciated all the kind thoughts about my illness, it makes me realise that blogging is not just a 'virtual' thing...

I love that people interact with my blog, so thank you for reading and commenting and please continue to do so :) I am really loving blogging, and I plan to continue for a long time to come!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The Dying Church...

On twitter last night I saw a tweet from @edthornton, a writer for the Church Times who flagged up this article by Nelson Jones for the New Statesman:
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/nelson-jones/2011/07/church-ageing-congregations

In it Jones says that the church should 'stop trying to be trendy and embrace its older generation'. Which came out of a Synod report that the average age of the churches congregation is 61. Not a good sign... He makes several points, including about children within the church but it this that really got me:
Far be it from me to make suggestions to the C of E, but perhaps they should stop trying to attract the youth market - a declining demographic in any case - and instead specialise in serving the ever-expanding numbers of older people. Church has much to offer senior citizens - not just religious consolation but socialisation with like-minded folk, participation in parish committees and voluntary work, the opportunity to develop hobbies such as flower-arranging and singing, even a discreet dating service for the recently widowed.

I really hope that this was written with sarcasm and with tongue firmly in cheek. Otherwise it shows a ridiculous disreagrd for the future of the church and is incredible short-sighted and narrow minded.

I am not sure that the '61' statistic is all that helpful but it is true that many areas of the church are or will be facing a dire shortage in the coming years. Whilst in many churches the over 61s are the largest part of the congregation and should be catered for accordingly, can we please start looking forward... someone? anyone? The church is here primarily to help people encounter Jesus: in worship, in prayer, in teaching. How can we be failing so miserably? Another stat said this:
Not only have congregations halved over the past forty years, the number of children attending regular worship has declined by 80 per cent.
Is the CofE flogging a dead horse? Is the end really in sight or can it be revamped for today and for the future? I want to see a CofE that is respected and valued within all of society not just those that believe. I want a CofE that meets peoples needs, whatever their age, that really helps them to encounter the unfailing love of our amazing God. I want to see a CofE that is not ridiculed by the press, but held up as a paragon of virtue...
Am I in cloud-cuckoo land?

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Infallible word of God..?

This morning I re-tweeted the following:

If you don't have an infallible Bible, you have a Stepford God.
from @dailykeller - Quotes from Tim Keller, and I was challenged on it, by a Christian and a non-Christian.
The Christian suggested:
...Or does believing in an infallible Bible produce Stepford Christians? What does an infallible Bible mean anyway?

and the non-Christian:
with absolute respect to you, I have to ask- do you really consider the bible infallible? Every verse?

Interesting comments... So I felt my responses too long to tweet and here we are:

So, yes I do believe in an infallible bible. I believe it is the Word of God, given to those who wrote it out. However what I don't believe is that everyone who reads it, and therefore interprets it, is infallible. I also believe it is important to look at the context surrounding when things were written. So I wouldn't take a passage deliberately out of context to prove a point. If I did, then I would not be going through the discernent process because Paul says: I do not permit  a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man... (1 Tim 2:11)
If I did, then  I would not wear mixed fibres (as stated in Leviticus 19:19)
If I did, then I would have been cut off from my people, several times...! (see Leviticus 20:18)

In terms of Kellers quote above, I think he was saying that if we don't believe that the bible is the God-breathed word of God, then we put God into a mould that we have made for him. We make him in our image rather than the other way round. We have a God that ticks a lot of boxes but isn't capable of much. and I don't believe in that kind of God. I believe in a God that is not going to fit into any box that we could ever make for him. He is far bigger, wider, stronger and mysterious than we can ever imagine.

I think there are 'Stepford Christians' out there and they are the ones who just accept everything they read or hear without addressing whether that sits comfortably with them for themselves. They are the ones who when questioned cannot engage with the question and get all defensive about their faith. I'm not knocking that, some people are happy to have that kind of faith, they don't want to question stuff. Personally I'm not, and I love being challenged on stuff because it makes me think. 

Love to hear what others think...

PS: on twitter I am @redjules






Monday, 11 July 2011

falling apart...

This time last week I was falling apart. I wrote the following but didn't want to post it until I had the results. So before you read this I can tell you all the tests were negative - Praise God - and I truly mean that.

4/7/11
Today I feel like I could go either way. I feel like I am clinging on with the tips of my fingers. I am not going to post this today for reasons that will become apparent but I need to get it off my chest so by the time you read it it will probably be 2 weeks after the event...

I have been back to my GP today for the umpteenth time. My white blood cells are still low (although marginally higher than they were..). I am still tired. nothing new. Today my GP was away so I saw someone else. She came up with lots of new tests to send me for (joys...) but ultimately she thinks it is probably CFS. She wants to refer me about this and also to the blood specialists but in order to do that she has to tick varous boxes first, including testing me for lots of scary things like Hepatitis and HIV.

She told me about this in a rather blase way, 'don't worry, just need to tick them off..'. but she still asked me about former partners and all that. Thing is, my youth was rather mispent. I was not careful. So this has worried me rather. Not for me actually but for my family, because if any were to come back positive (unlikely as it may be) then my husband and my 3 kids would be at risk too. That completely freaks me out. I lost it in the car on the way home, snot, hyperventilating, the lot. not a pretty sight...

Before I went in to see her I was almost wishing that something would show up so they could treat it, however bad it might be. Leukemia had been going through my mind after a (very foolish) google search for low white blood cells. Netdoctor is a bad idea..!  and now look. probably the worst possible thing that she could have mentioned, was mentioned...

Today I am particularly tired which is not helping. I sat down for prayer time after school drop off and started to nod off. I had only been up 2 hours! So my defenses are defintely down today. I have had time to pray and reflect on this morning and feel much calmer now, but it is there lurking in the back of my subconcious. And on top of that I know that if they are negative I am no further along anyway. Just more tests, and referrals. Man it is so boring. I am so fed up with this. I had been starting to feel better and as soon as I try and get involved in some stuff again I crash.

As I said I feel like I am hanging on my by fingernails. I could so easily fall into this pit of self-pity and despair but I will not allow myself. I do not do that. I am strong. But then maybe thats' what I should do? in order to really feel God is in control and to let Him catch me, do I have to let go? I'm not sure I know how to anyway...

I know I just need to trust Him but in order to do that I really need to know what he wants me to do, what I should be dropping for example, and yet I am just not hearing from Him at the mo, so I feel completely stuck. I feel like just chucking everything in. Literally everything.  How can I trust him when I don't know what he wants me to do? I am trying to listen, really.


today:
So today I got the results and I am so pleased they were negative (UNDERSTATEMENT) although as I said above I am no further along. I have to wait another 2 weeks to go back about the referrals. I was a mess last week. I had a meeting at the office after I wrote the above and although I had promised myself I would be strong I ended up sobbing, (so embarrassing) which actually turned out to be the best thing as I had a lot of prayer that day after that! I feel stronger this week. I know God is with me, and although I am no further along I have made some decisions about the future and am taking it more easy. Quite enjoying being a domestic queen today actually...(not sure how long that will last..)

The Truth

So today I have been pondering 'what is truth'. I will post my musings later but in the meantime I came across this via youtube which really struck me. Before you get 2 mins in and get all uppity like I did, do listen to the end....



Sunday, 10 July 2011

Ministry of movies

Most Important Moviephoto © 2010 Mike Licht | more info (via: Wylio)
Seeing as I am rather tired at the mo, my evenings have got to the point where I have an inability to focus on anything much. Which means I am often resorting to the TV, to veg out for an hour before bed. Despite having several hundreds of channels on our telly I have discovered that in the years since I was a regular evening TV viewer they seem to have done away with anything approaching half decent programming. I mean what is going on? Surely there must be some talented producers and writers out there (actually there are - my cousin is one..).

Anyway.. the point is that we have begun to watch movies instead. Having sky plus (say what you ilke about Murdoch this isa  brilliant invention) I can record decent ones when they come along, but we have also invested in a LoveFilm package. I am slightly scatty with my choices, I just click on anything that looks vaguely interesting and wait and see what arrives! So in the last few weeks we have watched Good Will Hunting, Eclipse (from the Twiglet series as my husband says), Slumdog Millionaire and Up.

Obviously the idea of this is to not be concentrating too much, so as you can see they are not too high brow ;) but the funny thing is that actually I think God has been speaking to me through them all. That or it's a sign that actually I can't switch off... I am sure it has occured to all you ministers out there, but movies are a great way of teaching the Gospel!  An example from a well known movie, makes it all the more contemporary and instantly puts the message on the level of the average person on the street.

If this continues by the time I get ordained all my sermons will have a cinematic theme...:)

Friday, 8 July 2011

Real Human Need

Ok, before I start, I am not ignoring the whole News of the World scandal. I am appalled by it. However all I have seen on my twitter feed the last few days is about #NOTW. Even the BBCs own twitter feed has been heavy on NOTW stories. But this is at a time when 12million people are facing starvation in parts of Africa. 12 MILLION. I mean that is so many it is incomprehensible. The closest I can imagine is everyone in the South East of England (where I live) facing starvation. Which to us it utterly unimaginable... I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like to watch your own children starving every day, not being able to help them or to feed them. To have to trek days to a help point to try and find food, when you have so little energy anyway through lack of food.


The area of East Africa affected is huge and has not had rain since November. Apparently rain is not expected until September (probably because its all falling here...). So easy to complain about the rain isn't it, but Africa is in desperate need of it. How unjust it all seems.

Please donate to one of the charities helping out: DEC, Oxfam, Christian Aid or others...


BBC:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14060545


Christian Aid:

Layers of Atheism

I
 am reading a rather fantastic book at the mo called 'God of Surprises' by Gerard Hughes. It's a fairly old one so I suspect lots of Christians have a copy knocking around on the theological bookshelf... I did not expect to enjoy it. It's on the diocesan reading list and it was given to me in a box of books from a friend, so I started reading it as a 'tick off'... So I was myself rather surprised to find it's actually very good. I usually read quite fast but this one is taking me a while because it keeps causing me to stop and think!
This week I was struck by this passage;

'There are layers upon layers of consciousness within us and on our journey towards God we are constantly discovering areas of atheism within us, provided we dare to look. These discoveries are signs of progress, not of failure...'

 what a relief then....;)

It is really interesting as Christians seem to take two forms in this respect: Those who question, embrace doubt and learn from it; and those who push it all under the metaphorical mental carpet, and refuse to acknowledge it, mainly through fear.

On the one hand I respect the idea that if we give in too deeply to doubt that it can consume us, and after all faith is a mystery, we cannot have all the answers that we desire. BUT... I think to ignore doubt, questions, or anxieties within our faith just ignores the problem, that will surely bite one on the bum at a later stage. The bible talks about our faith being built on the rock, not the sand, and to me, not addressing these things that come up is like piling everything onto sand, bound to come crashing down when something really challenging comes along. So I positively embrace this passage from Hughes. I like the notion of pockets of atheism hidden amongst the layers, I like that I can seek it out, or address it when it rears its head. I like that it is something that means I am progressing in my faith. I like that he says this is a positive thing not negative.
I embrace doubt!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Bishop of Chichester announces retirement.

This morning the Bishop of Chichester has annoucned his retirement, he will step down in April 2012. Dicoese news here.


I imagine speculation will shortly begin on who will take over and personally I'd be amazed if they didn't have someone lined up already. Bishops John's retirement plans have been one of the worst kept secrets in the church, so it's hardly a surpise. One things for sure, it won't be a woman...

I do not wish to alienate myself from the Dicoese, for obvious reasons, so my comment shall be brief, but it will be no surprise to anyone if I say I am not in the slightest bit upset by this news...

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Practising being still

I have been challenged recently about resting, and about being still. more specifically being still and resting in Gods presence. Being still and knowing that He is God. Being still is not something I do naturally but I have been trying for some time to be more so.  Today has been very restful, after a rather emmotional rollercoaster yesterday (will be posted about later..). today I have spent time with my mum and aunt having morning tea, for 2 whole hours. 2 hours!! this never happens - usually my tea goes cold because I go onto something else and forget it is there. Then I have had a leisurely lunch in the  garden whilst reading Jeremiah (this is where I have got to in the reading through the bible project I set myself some time back. lets just say Jeremiah is not an easy read..)
Anyway in pursuit of stillness I just sat for a while in the garden. Just sat, no praying, no reading, and this is what I noticed:

: a sparrow dance across the garden and catch a bee in mid flight
: swallows swooping beautifully over the field behind us
: the incredibly loud hum of a host of flying insects enjoying the privet flowers
: wafts of flower fragrances
: a bird feeding its young in the nest in the roof
: colour - the colours of blooms against each other
: the shape of an interesting leaf
: how high the hazel tree has grown in a few weeks
: the amazing angle of a plant stem hanging over the grass seeming to defy gravity
: the heat of the sun on my skin
: the sound of a birds wings beating together just over me
and more...
These things are of God. No, they are God. All these things which I just take for granted, but how amazing to just take a few moments and relish them for what they are.  If ony we all did this more often. Wonder at the things around us. the simple things, yet the things that are God, all around us, every day.
Be still, and know that I am God...  Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Times of Change

Funny how life changes isn't it. Maybe it's a modern generation thing? My parents did the same job for years and lived in the same house for years (current one 32 years and still has the same carpet as when they moved in...)

I kind of thought we would be the same. When we moved to where we live now (only 7 miles from the old place!) I thought that it would be for, well, not ever, but a long time. It's like a little bubble this village, it doesn't have a through road so people only come here if they live here or are visiting (or lost, often happens when they can't find the local pub...). It's a lovely community, people really know each other, we walk across fields to get to school. it's idyllic. and I love it. However, recently I have had a sense that it isn't forever, even though I wanted it to be. I think God has been preparing me for what was to come. now we have the prospect of moving at some point if I do go into ministry. it is kind of hanging over us actually. I am not all that bothered, but I now my husband is and I guess the kids too.

And we have just made the decision to move my son to a different school. For a lot of reasons and I know he will really thrive where he is going on so many levels. But it feels like the first step of  host of changes. no longer will I be able to walk them to school. I wil be driving him and getting back just in time to drop no3 at her school. Although we have thought about this very carefully and know it is the right decision it feels so odd. I found myself welling up when telling a friend that he would be leaving!

Everything feels very up in the air at the moment. I am ok with that, I'm not averse to change either, practically relish it actually - a new challenge and all that, but it feels rather like our family stability is being challenged too. No3 will go to the new school too, in 2 years time, and already is voicing her opinions about not wanting to go. and  No.2 was very quiet on going in to his taster day at the new school today and I know that is normal, but all this has just made me realise how many changes they might have to make for the sake of my intended vocation. What we have now is so special, so comforting and yes, stable, I just wonder how it will all affect them. Guess I just have to trust...