A few musings from St Kilda

Sunday, 17 May 2015

You can't do that!


We've all seen them around.   They are prohibition signs that say "you can't do that".    These days we replace words with symbols, just in case someone can't read English.   Sometimes there is a red line striking through, sometimes there isn't one, usually on standard road signs, which makes things more confusing, but they mean the same - what's prohibited is on the sign.



These signs appear everywhere and most people understand their message - you can't do what's on the sign.   So I was intrigued to find this sign on the sea front when I was walking the dogs.



Here it is as large as life.  It's a dog on a lead in a prohibition sign.   What is says according to the rules above, is that you are not permitted to walk your dog on a lead.    That means you have to walk your dog off a lead doesn't it, because the sign shows a person with a dog on a lead?    As there is not a dog ban sign, they must be allowed, just not on a lead.  

Actually I'm being facetious here as I know very well what was meant because the sign is written in English underneath - which is just as well as there may be of confused people otherwise!


I found it no surprise that the authors of confusion were SCDC - it's typical municipal confusion, but I'm surprised no-one has noticed.  Perhaps they have and they don't want the expense of putting up a different sign unless someone else notices and makes a fuss!  

We have all lived in a generation of can't do's.  The signs may have changed over the years, but we live in a society that has limits.  Our behaviour is regulated by those in authority, or by those wanting to protect their privacy by putting up Keep Out signs.  Usually it's in the form of telling us what we can't do.    A common view of God is that He is someone who is a killjoy.  He has produced a book, the Bible which tells us what we can't do.   In the past couple of generations people have stressed freedom rather than prohibition.   Their rejection of the Christian faith is often on the basis of their freedom to do as they please.   

What strikes me about these signs is that we have not become a freer society, just that the nature of freedoms has shifted from one part of our culture to another.   So people may be freer in their sexual relationships, or freer in terms of race, gender or class, but in a modern surveillance society, many of our other rights have started to disappear, particularly in relation to personal privacy.

I sometimes watch Jeremy Kyle on telly - you can't avoid him really.   Are some of these people he has on his show for real?    How can human beings treat each other like that.  Not all do, but we all see elements of that sort of behaviour in our own community. 

Then we realise why the Bible is full of moral statements. Without God's framework, relationships can be very dysfunctional.  However much people may criticise the Christian faith for its Biblical moral stance, what replaces it is often moral anarchy which leads to broken relationships, anger, unforgiveness, revenge, hurt and hatred.  

Actually, the Bible is a book that helps us define freedoms.  It's a book that creates a framework in which we can live life knowing that we love others and honour God.   It tells us of things we shouldn't do and why, but it also tells us how in Jesus, God has set us free to live life to the full, by recognising all the space there is between the limits.   If you are a Christian, then God wants you to live life to the full.   

2 Cor 3:17.. the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.   True liberty is not found in ignoring Jesus but following Him.   The following verses always encourage me:    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23).   The Christian faith is one where we have freedom to do all those things which build ourselves and others up.  They are all positive, and they are all powerful.   And the Spirit brings them into fruition in our lives.   Christians, in the power of the Spirit are a counter-culture people.    If we walk in the Spirit and pray in the Spirit, we display His fruit.  We will honour God and build up others.   The world, or society and those we know who don't know Jesus yet, needs that right now.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Pushing Jesus away?

Mark 6:1-6  
Jesus left there and went to his home town, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (NIV)

As I'm on sabbatical, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit other churches over the next few weeks.  My first outing was to Proclaimers Church at the Novotel in Ipswich.

I got a great welcome, so thanks to them.   The sermon was based on the passage from Mark above.  I've read it lots of times before but never preached on it.   And my attention was drawn to something I'd not noticed previously.  It's in verse 5.  Such was the lack of faith of people in His home town, that Jesus was only able to do a few miracles.  His blessings to them were limited by this lack of faith. We don't know if this was the same incident as in Luke 4 but either way, Jesus was driven away by their lack of faith and He went elsewhere and others received the blessings.

Jesus wants us to receive His blessings, but our lack of faith often means we miss out as we are not ready to receive.  We may even witness one or two miracles or answered prayers, but our lack of faith means that we can in effect push Him away from us. Because we have experienced a few things Jesus has done, we think we are OK and don't examine the areas in our life where we aren't faithful, full of doubts or unbelieving.

Yet Jesus wants to bless us so much more.  He wants to see us have victory in overcoming the difficulties in our lives,  to find strength to face the future, and most of all, to see the blessings He wants us to have as we believe.   As we pray in the Spirit we will see His work in the lives of those we pray for and in ourselves.




The Cross

One of the twentieth century's most significant global Christian figures was Billy Graham.   His huge evangelistic crusades resulted in many thousands - millions maybe - of commitments or re-commitments to Christ.

That style of ministry seems passé these days, although the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association points out that what they now call "Arena Events" still command huge crowds.    The church in Britain may use this kind of events much less now, but they still result in many changed lives in other parts of the world.   Of course, Billy is now 96 and hasn't done a large scale event for some time.

I was invited to a BGEA leaders' evening recently and they used the opportunity to introduce what the ministry currently does and the way it has tried to move with the social changes that have occurred both in the USA and in Europe that have changed the way in which we communicate with one another.   They are heavily into course, internet and video evangelism as well as their traditional preaching activities, now headed by Franklin Graham.  In fact a year ago Billy felt that God had given him one last message for America.  How was he to get it out, being largely housebound these days?  He made a video which is below which has resulted in many coming to Christ.

Unsurprisingly, his last message is exactly the same as the many thousands of messages in  over 60 years of ministry and its called The Cross.   So here's an opportunity to see Billy in a different format from that you're used to; presenting an old and familiar message to a new generation.   Who says you're ever too old to tell people about Jesus?  It has now been made available in a UK version too (this is the US one) and I hope to show the DVD later in the year plus a few other bonus videos from the BGEA.



Two Tribes



It was the biggest Ipswich-Norwich derby for many years in front of a full house at Portman Road. The video gives you some inkling of the atmosphere and the game was exciting. It was the 98th time the two teams had met in the league and  important for both teams, as they fight for a play-off place. At the final whistle it was a 1-1 draw, which was disappointing for us Ipswich fans.    However, sport apart, this derby has a darker side.

Violence in the past meant that twice the usual number of Police were on duty, many more stewards were hired and the City of London Police's mounted division was there. As far as I know there were few incidents to mar the day, but after the match I watched "fans" trade insults and one or two even spat at one another. Now that's a bit pathetic. To use the old adage; it is only a game.    But of course to some it's not. Norfolk - Suffolk rivalry can be identified as far back as the North Folk and the South Folk of the Kingdom of the East Angles.

We all have, and like to have an identity. I'm Welsh and I'm proud of it. I'm British too. But should that be used as a means to separate myself from others,  discriminate against them, insult them or even use violence? In our liberal democracy, most of us would say "of course not".   However we live in a competitive world where success for one can mean loss for others and animosity.  Whether it be football, nationality, race, sex, age, class, or occupation, people find all sorts of excuses to separate and discriminate.  It's all tribal and can lead to awful consequences.

What's God's view of this?  He shows no favouritism between people(Romans 2:11) and that's particularly true in their relationship with Him, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).   We're all the same to Him.

You'll notice I didn't mention religion in my list of things that make people resort to tribalism.   When people think they are right and that their views are endorsed by God (or gods) it can make them the most dangerous people on Earth.    Religion, even in the name of Christ has resulted in terrible atrocities as we know only too well by just looking at the news.   But is this what Jesus taught?  Of course it isn't.  Jesus came to bring peace between people and God and people and people.     He had all the reverse values to tribalism and these lie at the heart of biblical Christian tradition, and at the heart of a liberal democracy as well.

But doesn't religion divide?   After all Jesus claims to be the only way to God.  Surely that divides Christians from the rest?   Not really, because being a Christian isn't, or shouldn't be a mark of separation between them and the rest of society.     Quite the reverse, Christianity is inclusive - Jesus invites all people without exception to follow Him.   Let's repeat the Romans 3 verses by adding verse 24:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Separated from God?  By birth yes, but each of us have the choice of believing, trusting and following Jesus, because God offers it to everybody as a free gift through following and trusting Jesus.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

It's been a while ......

It's been a while since I posed on this blog: about 4 years to be precise!  So why restart it now?   Well, I'm on sabbatical and wanted to put a miscellany of things that interested my, or the Lord drew my attention to at this time of reflection.   I suppose I could have put most of it in the MRBC In Touch blog and some of it may appear there in the long term.

It is also an opportunity to put in other stuff that grabbed me as well which doesn't belong in the church blog - so here it is - A Slice of Life.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Holy Ground by Dave Bilbrough



Song by Dave Bilbrough, recorded at Spring Harvest in 1997

Monday, 28 February 2011

Who does it belong to?

Monday, 21 February 2011

LOL


25.9p per litre! LOL - you must be joking! Yes it was a joke done by pranksters at a petrol station in Poole.

Source: BBC

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Thorns in the Straw


This is one did recently for GK's Thorns in the Straw and am posting it here as it's Christmas Day.  

Peter at the Breaking of the Bread



This is an old GK song he occasionally syill sings. I've combined it with some pictures from the Passion of the Christ. Interestingly, it's called Peter at the Breaking of the Bread, but to me it fits John better! Read the Bible and see what you think!

Send Revival (Start with Me)


Here's a clip I put together some while back which I've now moved from presentation to video.  Enjoy.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Painting and the Painter

Have you ever seen this picture?  It's called Light of the World by English artist William Holman Hunt.  The original painted in 1853-54 is in Keble College Oxford, but a larger version of it painted later is in St Paul's Cathedral.

We know that Hunt got the idea from Revelation 3 verse 20 (Behold, I stand at the door and knock) and John 8:12 (I am the light of the world), but how does one envisage the face of someone the artist has never seen?  So what was Jesus' face to look like?  The solution is in the painting.

Now take a look at the close up of Jesus' face and a picture of a face that bears remarkable similarity.


And who is the owner of the face on the right?   William Holman Hunt.   The question is, if you were an artist painting a picture of Jesus, how much would it look like you?   My first reaction was that I would never dream of making such a connection and Hunt was being presumptious. Shouldn't he have made Jesus look unlike anyone people could make a connection to?  

But maybe that's the underlying challenge of Hunt's painting, and I'm not sure whether he had it in mind or not when he made Jesus bear more than a passing resemblance to himself.   If you look at Matthew  5:14-16, Jesus said to His disciples "You are the light of the world."    He's the light of the world, and He's made His disciples the light of ther world too.   So if I'm a disciple of Jesus, how much should I be like Jesus in every part of my life?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Commonwealth Games Update

Source: Private Eye



Thursday, 30 September 2010

Elderly Catholic visits Britain

From Private Eye

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Relate survey suggests mid-life crisis 'begins in 30s'

Here's a snippet from a  BBC Article 29/9/10
Work and relationship pressures make the mid-30s the start of many British people's unhappiest decade, a survey suggests. Of the 2,000 people quizzed, more aged 35 to 44 said that they felt lonely or depressed than in other age groups. The survey also suggested that busy parents were using Facebook and similar sites to stay in touch with children.  Relationship advice charity Relate, which is behind the research, said it revealed a "true mid-life crisis".

Of those surveyed, 21% of men and women aged 35 to 44 said they felt lonely a lot of the time, and a similar percentage said that bad relationships, either at work or home, had left them feeling depressed. The same proportion said they felt closer to friends than family, and a quarter said they wished they had more time for their family

How very sad; but in a generation that's generally rejected Jesus, I'm not really surprised that by the time people get into middle-age, they wonder what life has been all about.  Yet Jesus said of the human race:  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Friday, 13 August 2010

For those who like bossy waiters ..



Strange, there only seems to be one customer
at Bully Cafe
!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Stena brings back smoking



So here it is; Stena Lines new superferry, the Stena Hollandica. It's the largest ferry in the world. It's big and it's impressive, but the most noticeable thing about it is the massive pall of part-bunt diesel that it belches. You see the pall of smoke rising above Landguard Fort before you see the ship itself approaching Landguard Point. I'm sure it's luxurious as promised, but pity about the pollution.

Scram Scammer!

I was phoned today by a guy wanting to tell me of a major problem that was happening to all Windows computers. Curious? I'm fairly well read on these things and hadn't heard anything. He assured me that my computer would be full of errors. Did I have it switched on? I sensed a large and smelly rat.

As it happens the computer was on so I quickly switched from Linux to Windows and he started his game and I started mine as ignorant punter. He took me to Event Manager and asked me to look at the items in it - were there any errors or warnings? In the first folder there were warnings. I looked at a few and they were all the same and actually of no consequence - all networked Windows computers show them by default and that's normal. In another there were errors - but were all "phantom" errors I could explain easily and there were no problems. "You see he said your computer is full of errors. It will crash sooner or later! However, if you pay us £54 a year, our Microsoft trained engineers will sort out all your problems 24/7." At that point I hung up on him fearing his nose might get so long he would do himself an injury.

Why do I post this? As a warning mostly. It's just a telephone version of the scam that pops up saying your computer is full of viruses. You then pay for a program that does little for viruses but supplies your data to crooks worldwide. This is a simpler scam than that. Someone provides you with telephone support to sort "problems" out with your computer - but they are actually non-problems. If you are really concerned about security on your computer, go to someone you know and trust, don't respond to emails or phone calls from people you've never heard of.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Unleash the Lynx

Most people know that I'm a bit of a computer anorak and also know that I don't run Windows (or for that matter very little Microsoft software) on my computer but a version of Linux called Ubuntu. Like Windows it's an operating system and it's just come out in its latest version 10.04 codenamed Lucid Lynx.



So how does it differ from Windows?
Stability - it rarely crashes, and if it does, it doesn't crash the whole system. The main reason for stability is primarily the lack of a registry and the fact that it doesn't need an orderly shutdown to reboot the system.
Security - high security is built in as standard. The kernel is firewalled as standard. You don't require anti-spyware, anti-trojan, anti-rootkit or anti-virus scanning software (although ClamAV is included to filter out malware in emails in case you forward it Windows users). It is very difficult to get bad stuff on your computer or to lose information from it.
Speed - it's fast, very fast - because unlike Windows, it contains a minimum of flabware. Ubuntu Lucid boots to its login screen in under 10 seconds.
Software - there's no fiddling with CDs and DVDs. All Ubuntu software is downloaded and regularly updated from online repositories. By all I mean all. Not just the Operating System but all the software. Ubuntu has about 99% of linux software online and available to download in a few clicks. There are good quality free alternatives to well-known software, particularly Microsoft Office and the awful Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Spondoolies - so how much does it all cost. Nowt. Ubuntu is free and always will be. All the online software is free too. I've only paid for about five pieces of linux software since I started using Ubuntu four years ago and I don't think I use any of it now! Is the software naff if its free? No. It's well used, well-trusted and well-supported software - it just happens to be free. The rule of thumb in computer software it seems to me is that the more money you pay, the less competent and more badly written software tends to be.

What's the drawbacks? For most users, none at all. If you are a gamer then Linux isn't for you. But Linux is a new world for most people. Ubuntu make it as easy as possible for people to migrate from Windows, but you have to unlearn all your bad Windows habits and get used to doing things a different way. It's not harder, just different. Unlike Windows which probably came bundled with your computer, you'll have to install it yourself which can be problematic. To those of us who have experience of fresh installs or re-installs of Windows on computers, Ubuntu problems are usually in the same category of difficulty.

You won't have access to a helpline where you will find help from someone who can't speak English and hasn't got a clue what your problem is. Ever tried ringing AOL? You'll see what I mean. You'll rely on posting your problem in the Ubuntu Forums where other users will suggest what you can do. Anoraks usually answer within an hour or two and usually they are right. Having been a host on tech message boards for AOL, I've found that other users give the most reliable answers, particularly on Linux boards.

Try before you don't buy - Ubuntu is designed to be test run from CD or DVD on any computer (PC or Mac) without disturbing the existing setup. Just download and burn a CD image. Or you can install Ubuntu to run in Windows using a program called Wubi. Or you can even install Ubuntu to run natively on your computer without disturbing Windows (it's called dual boot) if you've got plenty of fee disk space. It means you can play with Ubuntu before committing yourself to using it.

What about my favourite Windows programs? - I still have a couple of those. There is a package call Wine which can run Windows software under Lunix. It's OK on older and simpler programs but for good running I recommend running Windows in Linux using a virtual machine. That's a whole world in itself but easy to set up.

If Ubuntu is more secure, more stable, more technologically advanced than Windows, and free, then why don't more people use it? I'll answer that with a question. Why don't more people trust Jesus? Knowing God and having an eternal hope is free as well and will outlive all human technology; so why don't more people try it?

Knowing Jesus - Jesus can be discovered in your nearest Bible or at www.whoisjesusreally.org
Ubuntu can be downloaded at www.ubuntu.com


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Mr Bean goes to Church

I was going to put part of this in last week's sermon but the video was too dark. Here it is in full for Mr Bean addicts everywhere. Great performances here from Richard Briers and of course, Rowan Atkinson who plays both Mr Bean and reads the sermon!