Christian culture, summer grumpiness and the joy of decent people.

Today God gave me a loving, but firm kick up the backside.

For a while now, at this time of year, I have got a proper grump on.

I see lots of people on Facebook, Twitter etc going off to various Christian conferences – new wine, the 24-7 stuff, greenbelt, you name it… it all looks so lovely, but we can’t afford any of it. And at the end of September we will have even less as our first child arrives.

Gone are the days when as a youth group member my church paid for me to go on CPAS holidays or as a young adult I did new wine as a volunteer, because I could as a young free and single person.

Now we are not poor. We can afford Netflix and the TV licence. We also have a once a month date night budget. 

On top of all that I’m a youth pastor and my lovely church pays for my husband and I to go to the aog conference.

So really I have no room to moan. 

All the same, I know a lot of people with less money than us who live hand to mouth, and lots of people who like us can’t afford to go away for any sort of holiday, conferences included. 

It makes me cross that access to all this beautiful, amazing teaching, worship, general God stuff is only for the wealthy or those who belong to big enough churches they can afford to pay for their skint members.

So it was in a fit of grumpiness I responded to Krish Kandiah’s post about Books for life LIVE.

That’ll teach me… he, and others responded with such humble generosity. Take a look:

It’s left me both humbled and blessed… and wondering what solutions there could be for all those skint believers out there. 
At the.end of the day, speakers, preachers and authors also need to eat. But surely technology could bring stuff local? I know you can get lots talks on video, and that at big conferences stuff is streamed live from one venue to a second… maybe it could be streamed to local churches… I don’t know. There just has to be a way of being more inclusive.

Which brings me back to the book conference. Turns out if I had stopped and looked I would have known I couldn’t go anyway, it’s 13 days after baby’s due date.

But I do have a plan. You may have seen little free library on Facebook… I wonder if our church could have a Christian little free library? I mean, how cool would that be. I’m going to ask…

And I resolve to have more action and less grumpiness.

Book review: Finding God In The Waves by @mikemchargue via @hodderfaith

I’m not a fan of every book I review (although I always try to be respectful) but in this case, I am an all out fan. 

Mike’s book is honest, thought provoking and deeply encouraging. And besides, any book that provokes this many book marks has to be worth a read:

Mike takes us through the journey of his faith, doubt, loss of faith and return to a new deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. He also offers a way forward for anyone who is interested in faith but doesn’t want to compromise their integrity by pretending science doesn’t matter.

Although I found many of the difficulties Mike has faced didn’t apply to me, I still found all he had to say a trigger to exploring my own faith more deeply. And for anyone who has come or is coming from the same place as Mike, the book will be a God send.

While I found most of Mike’s axioms not enough – he states that each is at least– I found his Bible one to be what I have always believed and was taught at home:

THE BIBLE is at least a collection of books and writings assembled by the Church that chronicles a people’s experiences with, and understanding of, God over more than a thousand years. Even if  that is a comprehensive definition of the Bible, study of Scripture is warranted to understand our culture and the way in which many, many people come to know God.

I would add that it is also a way in which God speaks to me today.

Perhaps that is why I have never seen an argument between science and faith in my own life.

I do see it in people all around me though, especially amongst the young people I work with and Mike’s book is invaluable to me as a window into that perspective and a help in it.

Mike also has much to say about how the church treats other views to its own and how it deals with doubt and I found myself cheering him on as I read. We all need to learn that being a bully (ie stamping on someone else to make yourself feel better) never did win converts or keep people faithful.

Finally, I found myself deeply encouraged by Mike’s attitude and obvious, overflowing love for people and God. I finished the book truly blessed and I think you will too.

You can buy it here: Amazon

And here: Eden

You can also find Science Mike’s weekly podcast on iTunes and podbean.

The importance of investing in the #small

Democracy is overrated. Or at least ours is. True democracy is of course, priceless, but when you have to put up with a government you didn’t vote for and more to the point, you couldn’t even vote for the party you wanted to it doesn’t look so rosy.

And then there are multinational corporations. You know, the people who have more power than the government. The organisations which really run our lives. Just look at the climate change issue. Or fair trade. Or the living wage.

It makes you wonder what an average Joe could do.

Small actions when lots of people do them add up to world changing big actions, but what if you look around you and you feel like the only one taking any action?

But wait. Your action might not change the world, but it does change you. And lets face it, regardless of what happens in the world, you are still going to have to live your life, and those around you are still going to have to live with you.

If it is right to take care of the planet, it is, regardless of whether anyone else is or not.

For your soul’s sake, invest in the small.

Besides, some people do end up as world changers and they all had to start somewhere, so never despise the small.

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In the end, the colour of your soul is not changed by the number of online petitions you sign, especially if you have slid into slackivism.

But it is changed by the grace of God as you take each small choice, each action and offer it up to him as worship. As we do things because the are right and good, regardless of whether or not they change the world, we find that instead, we are changed and the potential that others around us will be changed appears.

All it takes is one small flame to burst the dark.

#Biblestudy #smashbook style…

Bible study is one of those things i feel i ought to be able to do with enthusiasm every day. Sadly it doesn’t always work out that way. So, i am always on the look for reading the Bible in ways which will bring me closer to God.

It dawned on me today, that perhaps I could put two things I love together… So smash book scripture it is!

I have a book called search the Scriptures, which I am going to do smash book style and I started today:

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My new #blog offering #mindful workshops and courses

I work four days a week at the moment, and it has given me the chance to think about and now finally act upon an idea I have carried for a long time. This is from the new blog,

Blue canary bird house 

I hope you might go and take a look 🙂

For fifteen years or so, I have carried a dream. To begin with, it looked like a retreat centre, but how expensive is that? Now I am attempting to go to where people already are.

I long to provide a space where people can find rest for their minds and souls, a place where they might find skills to help them in their everyday lives and a little oasis of calm in the meantime.

Hence the Blue Canary Birdhouse. It is an obscure reference, but if you remember the80’s song by they might be giants about a little blue canary night light, it makes more sense:

“Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch

Who watches over you

Make a little birdhouse in your soul”

So here I am, offering courses and workshops for community groups and churches in order to help people build their own birdhouses for their souls.

#church, the people not the building

Its old hat I know, but still true, that the church is its people, not the building we meet in.

So how come so much time is spent acting like that isn’t so? We spend lots of time doing and less time being with each other.

I read this article on pastoral care today and it reminded me that no one ever came to Jesus because of a program. Instead it was the personality of Jesus that drew true discipleship.

Paul says that God is using us as ambassadors,  as though God were making his appeal through us (2Corinthians 5:20). Note, us, not our buildings or our doughnuts or our super-duper worship/speaking/toddler group.

Paul goes further. He said he became nothing so that people wouldn’t get tangled up in the programme and miss the personality of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

And yet all around me I see the church both traditional and modern getting tangled up in… Stuff.

You know, we could meet in a porta-cabin with a battered old CD player and a packet of rich tea biscuits, as long as we had love. That is, after all how Jesus said people would know we were his disciples  (John 13:34-35).
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Photo via http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/3/28/1301326990499/Rich-Tea-biscuits-007.jpg

I find the lack of love I sometimes see particularly painful when it comes to young people. We are called by Jesus to love our neighbour as ourselves, and yet again and again I see adults putting what they want at gatherings of Christians before what young people might want or need.

And that’s Christian young people, never mind non Christian folk.

So my prayer for myself and others is that we might truly see and hear the people around us and love them more than our (church) stuff.