Archive for August, 2014

Music, music I hear music…

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Just really need to tell you all about a couple of great things happening with some christian music soon.

The very amazing and fantastic American rock band Flyleaf are due to release their new album, and first with new second singer Kristen in two weeks time. The first single ‘Set me on Fire’ is out-have a look at the video on Youtube- and hopefully it will be a great strong comeback after their previous much-loved singer Lacey decided to leave after having her first child. Lacey is still doing good things, involved with The Whosoevers group in American, doing talks, lectures, testimonies and possibly her own book and solo album soon. With any luck Flyleaf will tour around the UK and Europe again soon, so it would very good to go see and support them.

Another really fantastic American band Skillet are heading our way in October I think. They like Flyleaf, are absolutely massive over in American and tour there constantly, and after their new album Rise came out last year, some of the singles have been getting good air-play over here. They are I think doing four dates in the UK, including Glascow, Wolverhampton, London and more. They are a really fantastic, inspirational great band and should have some solid support and love when they come over to here.

 

What kind of a day…?

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hello again, it is Sunday once more.

So this week, this Sunday brought another time to feel torn about which local church to go and attend, as I am sort of between well three or four. We intend to possibly pick one and stay there eventually but well…things are not that easy.

I was going off the idea to be honest, but eventually I went along to our regular long-time church, which is currently taking place in a local park over the summer time.

I often feel I don’t fit in at times, or I am younger than most or older than some, and that should not really afis affect thoughts or feelings but it can.

I mean, yes it is a place to worship, it is about God, but I feel that a person should feel comfortable doing so also.

This is all affect by our modern culture, the mix of all kinds of cultures, interests, divide and division of community, generations, social groups and more.

But today was actually a really nice time at church. Being at this park/cafe venue the atmosphere is mroe relaxed than the usual structure, so that does help. And it can come down to who you end ups sitting next to and talking with at times.

We looked at Psalm 62, inspired by one of the leader team hearing it discussed at a recent summer christian festival. It seemed at first a fairly usual, regular psalm, but after a short while we did seem some quite interesting elements it. Some of it almost related to some events in our recent lives, in global and national events, politics. We prayed about it, explored it in small groups casually.

We than prayed about the middle east situation and the troubled international events taking place and discussed them a little. This all felt like good church to me.

Admittedly, my wife and I were a little late and so I think we missed the songs at the start, which might have made things easier.

So now I have some spiritual thoughts for the day ahead while I go about a few regular daily events and tasks of the weekend. Hope you have a good day too.

The Discerning Christian

deal with itThe following is semi-formal discussion of theology and philosophy. While I am passionate about the subject matter, it could come across as stuffy and impersonal compared to my usual posts. I will use words like “situatedness.” Deal with it.

Theology is both wrong and harmful in its common use

This came up in a private conversation: I would contend that theology is simply harmful in general or at least as people usually go about working in the discipline. Outside of a very select group of claims, any time that theology tries to make metaphysical assertions, it both fails and harms.

Theology fails because it does not provide justification for its beliefs beyond the pure assertion of those beliefs, the assertions usually taking the guise of direct revelation from God. The guise fades when one asks theology to defend the status of revelation.

Theology harms because these unjustified claims then go…

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Honesty and faith in life…

Posted: August 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

Short post this here, but I just want to mention something in the national news this week about a famous christian. British worship musician and presenter Vicky Beeching came out as being gay this week.

There are going to be many, varied responses and reactions to her sexuality in the next few days, months especially among christians in the UK and American and elsewhere I am sure.

My own view on her news and given the very sad story behind it also, is that I am really very glad that she has been so very brave to speak about it and be open. I am very sure there will now be some difficult times, but I hope life will be much better for her.

Yes, my own view on gay, lesbian, bi, transgender is fairly simple and modern, progressive and positive. I have a number of gay friends, I have known some for years, and let me say this-some gay friends have proven themselves to seem very much more compassionate and caring to others and selfless than some others, including possibly some christians I have known. Gay is not a type of person-it is sexuality.

My view is that there is very little said about sexual orientation in the Bible, and mostly over other things, there are very many much more serious issues and problems going on in the world today. With terrorism, civil wars, extreme poverty, class inequality, serious diseases, banking corruption, exploitation, traffiking of people, drug wars, race tension, depression, materialism, advertising, consumerism, addictions, corporate lies; gender fear is hardly anything worry about.

I truly wish Vicky all of the best in life, I hope others find her move inspirational and I hope that she still feels God in her life as ever. Godbless you Vicky, all the best.

 

Hey, more book talk…

Posted: August 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Just before I forget-but I probably seem already like a real bookworm (I do actually write semi-pro) you should check out some of these christian books/authors-not all male, or writing for men, but very interesting and worth a look for sure…

Cranky, Beautiful Faith: For Irregular (and Regular) People by Nadia Bolz-Weber (4 Nov 2013)

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (10 Sep 2013)

She is a new fresh author, very different and similar to Don Miller in ways

A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists by Mitch Stokes (17 Apr 2012)

Unapologetic: Why, despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sensePaperback– 7 Mar 2013

THE STREET BIBLE/THE WORD ON THE STREET-Rob Lacey

-Fantastic version of the Bible in modern slang, youth street talk-very funny, modern, accessible to younger people, anyone just curious, great book.

Street Life: Engaging 40 big issues-Rob Lacey

The Liberator- Rob Lacey

The Message-The Bible/New Testament in modern language

10 Second Sermons-Milton Jones (UK stand-up Comedian)

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Beliefby Francis Collins

The Monster Within: Hell’s Angel to God’s Messengerby Brian Greenaway

 

Trouble everyday…that’s an old great Frank Zappa tune. Anyway, just a title here…

So look, I wanted to mention a few Christian/spiritual books I have been reading or rereading over the last year or more. You might find them interesting, you might have read them, know of them, or have a wrong idea about them.

Let’s see…well one of the most significant and engaging Christian authors of recent years, for me anyway, has been Donald Miller. His books Blue Like Jazz, and Searching for God knows what (to name just two) are some of the most easily accessible, honest, humble, funny, thoughtful spiritual books that I can ‘click’ with as a young(ish) guy just moving through life.

Now you see, I do really have much respect for a number of other highly acclaimed christian writers like Yancey, Rick Warren, J John, Nicky Gumble, Mike Pilavachi and others; but I feel the books of Don Miller you could actually hand over to a non-believer friend and they would give them a chance. He writes like he is just thinking casually, without seeming too deep, heavy, serious; often joking and creating a mood while putting forward an idea. Very good reading there.

Like many, I really like the works of C.S. Lewis. Of course he is seen as a very respected classic christian author, theologian and his book Mere Christianity could be considered the one to offer to anyone for a chance to find God and a spiritual path in life.

Brian McLaren has written a number of great and possibly challenging books often looking at modern culture and faith and how they can meet up and move along together with us. He also thinks about where the church is today, where is can go, what it should be as times and culture moves continually.

A possibly controversial christian author that many (at least here in the UK) might not know so well, is Erwin McManus. He does very much write for the very male guy, who might seem very lost in church, in faith, searching and feeling a need for direction in faith. Some of his books can be a little repetitive, but The Barbarian Way:Unleash the Untamed Faith, The Uprising Experience are good for a masculine perspective.

Also from here in the UK a few years ago we had the Manga Bible, which was so really good. Yes, it is a graphic novel, black and white comic book, but it is in the Japanese visual manga style and features the main bible stories and most of Jesus life. Very strong, amazing work, very cool and by an artist called Siku, who worked on the 200AD comic book among others.

Another big hit in recent years, from an alternative culture side, was the autobiography of Brian HEAD Welch, guitarist from huge American rock/metal band KORN, who left at their commercial peak, dealing with massive drug and addiction and life problems and finding Jesus and God and changing his life forever. Great, stark but powerful read.

At this point, I think I’ll just put down a list of a few of these interesting, possibly useful Christian/spiritual books you might find helpful, or worth looking for:

Soul Revolution:How imperfect people become all God intended- John Burke

No Perfect People Allowed:Creating a come as you are culture in church-John Burke

Soul Graffiti: Making a life in the way of Jesus-Mark Scandrette

ReJesus:A Wild Messiah for a missional church -Frost and Hirsch

Donald Miller-Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God knows what, A million miles in a thousand years, Through painted deserts, This Beautiful Mess

Siku-The Manga Bible, The Manga Jesus collection

Velvet Elvis-Rob Bell

Save me from myself:How I found God, quit KORN, kicked drugs and lived to tell my story-Brian HEAD Welch

Stronger:Forty Days of Metal and Spirituality-Brian Welch

Washed by blood:Lessons from my time with KORN and my journey to Christ-Brian Welch

They Like Jesus But Not the Church: Insights from Emerging Generations by Dan Kimball

Restless Pilgrim: The Spiritual Journey of Bob Dylan by Scott M. Marshall and Marcia Ford

Spiritual Journeys: How Faith has influenced Twelve music icons-Steve Beard and Bonham

The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within by Erwin Raphael McManus

UPRISING: A Revolution of the Soul by Erwin McManus

WHY MEN HATE GOING TO CHURCH by David Murrow

A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That are Transforming the Faith by Brian Mclaren

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?: Christian Identity in a Multi-faith World by Brian D. Mclaren (27 Sep 2012)

The Church on the Other Side: Doing Ministry in the Postmodern MatrixPaperback– 31 Dec 2002 Brian McLaren

More Ready Than You Realize: The Power of Everyday ConversationsPaperback– 1 Jan 2002 Brian McLaren

 

There are many more, so go look over bookshops and the internet for something that might challenge or engage you and your own faith.

 

 

 

Hey, hello again. Here we are at Sunday.

So I am not going to church today (so far anyway, I may change my mind in a while) but I will write some thoughts here. Worship can be contemplation, thought, reflection personally, intimate and quite also right?

I don’t know-is the title of this blog post misleading? I was thinking about what to write about…I am going with being male, being under the age of 40, and that kind of thing. This might not seem like much of a problem or an issue, not really considering more of the very serious things happening around the world today-all kinds of suffering, oppression, injustice, disease, inequality in the UK, US and all around the world.

This is just a simple short post now, about being a male guy with faith and need of God or undersanding of God with modern culture around us.

I might not be taken up with all kinds of distraction and entertainment which grabs at us but many guys spend much of their time watching and living football, sports, in the pub, with the ‘lads’, there is music of many different kinds-some of it great and creative and expressive and some of it sexist, derivative-and then there are videogames, XBox, Playstation, PC games, on-line MMO multi-player games.

Am I thinking that many of us spend too much time watching football or immersed in videogames? (I will not forget here that many women and girls also like football and play all kinds of videogames just like guys do these days, nothing wrong with that at all) no, but maybe I am wondering about the experience of entertainment…watching games, playing games-both entertainment, but also but different…

Watching sports and football games and also watching good bands or musicians can become addictive, we get passionate, we can easily end up almost worshipping the great sports players, the singers, guitar players etc.

Playing great videogames either as a single player or multiplayer we can escape reality, get away from troubles, forget problems of everyday. We can soon though begin to feel powerful, we get a feeling of greater Ego. You can die in a game, but come back for another go, with strategy. I am mostly very open-minded as far as videogames go-same with films and music etc, but yes there can be some problems and bad issues sometimes but that is another discussion, another blog….

So it looks like this piece here is considering entertainment, escape through entertainment, escape of self, of problems. We can not forget problems, block them out forever, and that is probably where God fits right in. So go watch that great game later, your favourite team; go play that new game with your mates and try to get that really high score and get much further but if you have a big, major problem stop playing the games at some point and give God some time.

Do I look the part?

Posted: August 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Well again this Sunday, church was different-we made it along to our usual chruch but it was taking place in the park so we had to drive along a short while to get there. After a couple of days of extreme heavy rain, we finall had what seemed to be a day of peaceful sunshine and reflection.

Now, because I am sort of between two or even three churches currently, on that search for where I fit in, before leaving the house I had to think carefully about what I would wear yesterday. Now, maybe I should not have had to think about it at all. Maybe the simple answer is just-hey, ‘Sunday Best’, that is what you wear to your church. Well, things just aren’t that simple (not for a 30-something guy in 2014 UK).

What I wear can reflect my character, how I feel, where I come from. I do not really believe much in the idea that you really should wear what is your ‘Sunday Best’-or possibly most expensive suit/shirt/dress (if a woman). Some churches and places of worship do that, that’s good for them. To me, that might actually turn people away these day, put them off thinking about walking in if they actually don’t have what they think of as very good, expensive or just the ‘right’ clothes. They may feel insecure, out of place, rejeced or worse.

For me, it is more of a culture and class thing. I could just forget it, not put too much thought into it at all, and just go along in whatever I pull on on that day. I feel that I actually come from a slightly different place culturally to probably the majority of the people in church, and possibly from a different class.

It could be that actually I feel that I represent alternative culture, working class or at least I should be the one to step in and show most regular church folk that they do not need to fear someone under 50 dressed in a bit of black or looking just more casual than wearing a very sharp and exprensive suit, or the finest quality shirt or dress available around.

I do think about this because there are poor towns and areas around me, and it really is a fact that just so many poor and working class people will not set foot in a church. There may be many reasons for that, but if when they go in or even see others entering or leaving and it looks like some very swanky exclusive golf club/country club they probably just think ‘forget that’.

So I wore black, I wore my big heavy boots. (Let us remember Johnny Cash wore black, and why…) . I also though don’t intent to intimidate nice folks in their church, but I just wish to feel like myself and ultimately I don’t want to change myself to fit a chruch-should I?

Dress code…?

If I should, then is that also why mostly all of the youth of today-especially the poorer working class just don’t consider going into any church near where they live?

(Okay, they also play a lot of Xbox, PC and Playstation but that is another post…)

Like the classic Nirvana song ‘Come as you are’…