Monday, 13 November 2017

Church what's it all about

What's the difference between the 'real' world and church. Assuming of course you are coming from the angle that church is a group of people gathering and not a building? In which case if you are coming from the latter you are probably better comparing it against a housing estate. Well I'm coming from the people angle comparing people with people. Actually people in both cases whether 'real' world or chuch, have to deal with the same issues financial, relational, health, unemployment and lots more. Both groups are still find their place in community, learning to be in a relationship with others. Still messing up and dealing with the consequences of that.

What's the difference between the 'real" world and church. It's an obvious answer, Jesus. You would be quite right in saying, "Andy, but it doesn't feel like that sometimes". Consider this, that the church is the 'real' world with all the mess with Jesus amongst it all. Tim Watson, Beatliturgist wrote a poem called Church Without Love, in which he says, "church without love is just a meeting about a bloke". 
This love is described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 , Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

Could the church without love be the 'real' world without Jesus?

Friday, 20 October 2017

Water from the web heats homes

I was reading on the BBC website  recently that a city in Sweden was using the internet to heat homes. Basically water used to cool data servers is redistributed to homes, therefore enabling them to be heated. This sounds like a great idea. Does that mean in countries where politicians are prolific at using social media, everyone would get an extra boast of hot air, sorry I mean heat? Oh it could catch on :-)

Thursday, 19 October 2017

That funny seat on the bus

I haven't travelled on a bus in ages, but now it has become a regular occurrence going to Durham as it actually works out cheaper than parking there. My grandad would be proud of my frugalness!

My experience of travelling on public transport early in the morning, as a die hard car driver, is a bit like getting up, going downstairs and seeing a bunch of strangers sat around your dining room table in silence either playing on their phone or reading The Metro. All going in the same direction, knowing we need to press the stop button at some point and getting ready to stagger down the bus just before it stops. Because we don't have enough confidence in the "shop like" bell and under whelming "bus stopping sign" communicating to the driver, "STOP". I do like the introduction of the next stop announcement. I think by the end of the year I'll have an encyclopedic knowledge of bus stops on the road to Durham.

So while I'm sat on the bus fascinated by the shiny plug sockets to charge mobile phones, easily pleased, I'm amused by an out of place single chair behind the driver. I'm not sure what bus builders were thinking. On the 1st day let there be a chasis and wheels. Day 2 let there be an engine. Day 3 let there be a body and all the other bits needed to get the bus running and day 4 let there be an interior. Day 5 let there be passengers. Day 6 we've missed something. I know a single seat behind the driver that looks weird. Day 7 after that I'm having a holiday!

Take a look at the photo of the seat, there's not much distance between face and wall, probably less when the driver breaks. Is sitting there a subtle way of saying to people I'm not sitting with the great unwashed, or I have no confidence please don't talk to me, a wise place to sit to avoid knocking into other passengers while looking for an available seat or could it be a genuine place for someone to get their thoughts together without distraction (but not the rattling engine) before starting work, school, college or some other activity?

Who knows and who cares it's just a seat that someone sits on?

Monday, 18 September 2017

Thoughts and learning about an evangelism course in Newcastle

I attended an evangelism course in Newcastle on Saturday. Here are some of my thoughts and learning from it. The course was delivered by Scott McNamara a gifted evangelist from Causeway Coast Vineyard.

We head off to Newcastle...

Saying the word evangelism to many people in the church elicits different emotions largely guilt and fear. Leading to thoughts of  "I know I'm supposed to do it but, I am not very good at it, besides we have people who can do that." etc. Scott who delivered the course was clear at getting the message across that guilt and fear are emotions that holds the church back. The message Scott had for us was completely opposite to this, God wants us to be in partnership with the Holy Spirit, and wants to empower us to share the good news.

It's about trees...
Scott used an image to describe this partnership with the Holy Spirit. Imagine being in an orchard with apple trees. Some of these apples are ripe and ready to be picked and others are still firmly attached to the tree because they are yet to ripen. The ripe apples represent people who are receptive to hear about Jesus' love; in Scott's analogy they are waiting to fall. The Holy Spirit shakes the trees just as He shakes lives and we are there to catch them to point them to Jesus. 

It's reaping not sowing...
One thing that struck me was that the church is good at sowing in many ways with various activities or events, for example messy church, fairs and foodbanks, all of which are great ministries but are about sowing. In John 4:35 Jesus told us to open our eyes spiritually to reaping the harvest not sowing. Think about it in these terms, if we are running around sowing seeds and there are ripened apples ready to pick and we don't, they are going to fall and die on the ground, these people won't be saved. There is an immediacy in what God calls us to do. When we look at the world with worldly eyes we make judgements on who is going to be receptive and who isn't. It is with spiritual eyes that we have no prejudice, no assumptions and no judgement in seeing people who are receptive to the Gospel message and pointing them to Jesus.

The Gospel message is at the heart...
It seems obvious, the Gospel message has to be at the heart (Acts 2:38) of what we share with others, spoken with kindness (Romans 2:4).  When Jesus comes knocking on the door of our heart, it is because He loves us, we choose to open the door to Him and not feel manipulated to do so. This includes the acceptance that we have done things wrong in our life and that we need to turn and follow Jesus.
In Matthew 28:16-20(NIVUK), then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

At the end of the course and Sunday morning I was left with the question "Will I go?"

To find out more about Scott McNamara visit