Wednesday, 14 April 2010

If a week is a long time in politics it's even longer in Butlins.......

I don't like blogs that just describe stuff and don't allow space to think, but needs must I'm afraid.....
What. A. Week.
If I tried to go into detail about all the amazing things that God has done over the past 7 days, then I'd be here for a while. As per usual at spring harvest, the banter was incredible, between getting new jobs on a regular basis, the invention of new words, a bizarre re-telling of Esther and a million other in jokes I was belly laughing on a regular basis.
But thats not what I'll remember this week for.
I'll remember it as a week when God broke my heart again. Broke my heart for the lost, those around me, those I don't know. For those in pain, suffering,hurting.Broke my heart for those people that I constantly don't do enough for. I spent a couple of hours praying on the beach on the last night, I needed that.
I'll remember it as a week where God messed with my head, without going into too much detail, he once again turned my brain upside down, gave it a shake, and reminded me what a ridiculous human being I am.
I'll remember it was a week where I saw God change young people. Spring harvest is always a journey from night 1 to morning 6. Sometimes young people catch a hold of something instantly and are hyped up from the second or third night.
This week was different.
There was a subdued group of folks, not getting hyped in worship, but, through conversation, clearly open to what God was going to do.
As a team we wanted to challenge them in a variety of ways and on night 3 Damo did what he does best and led young people to Christ. Immediatly after we challenged young people to step up to the line in situations around them.
And from that point it kicked off.
Worship seemed to be led by the spirits of Michael McIntyre (why that happened is a totally different blog!), young people gave in massive ways to the offering and blew my mind. Hearts were changed, lives turned upside down, hope given out in new ways, I saw young people willing to spread hope in the lives around them, a willingness to invite God into their suffering, to praise him no matter what.
I feel so blessed to have been able to faciliate what God did in that place.
So so blessed.
A couple of thoughts which I've been unable to get out of my head. I prayed with a guy one night, his friend had just a heart attack. The next day he tells me he's been healed. Wow
The next day it turns out he relapsed, and died.
This guy turns to me and says "But I'm going to praise God anyway."
After seeing God do so much that week, it finished me off. I'm not a crying person, but sharing that story wells me up. As I said to one guy, its not only the girls that need waterproof mascara this year.
Some of the testamonies on the last morning were incredible. I don't want to go into detail, but the miracles (and not your ordinary ones), transformations and challenges that had come in that place amazed me.
But perhaps the thing that will stay with me most was the final act. At an early point in the week it was pointed out that me and Michael McIntyre share a certain similarity. I unleashed the power of the skip during some early morning banter, and soon after it was let out during the always popular 'dancing generation.'
Over the course of the week I led the young people on this skip round the venue a few times.
But on that last morning, as we prayed for them, we got them to skip out of the doors, into the outside world.
And here's the thing. Spring harvest is a place were young people can be led in a skip, shown the way, but when they leave, they're skipping on their own. Sharing the skip with others, inviting others to skip with them. As these young people skipped out of a dark, smelly venue in minehead they were ready to go out, change the world, via cupcakes and skipping.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

All you need is........

We are surrounded by images, messages and ideas of love. Valentines Day was just over two weeks ago and in the run up you could barely move for cards, flowers and chocolates, well, at least in my room anyway.
Today I saw the Archbishop of Canterbury. He gave a talk, and then after then there was a Q & A session at which my mate Pat asked him what the key message that youth workers could bring to young people today. He responded with this;

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Clearly they weren't his words, but rather the words of Paul, in the Bible, writing to the Romans. What he said afterwards was that we are called to bring the Love of God to young people, to embody it, and to show that nothing can seperate them from it, nothing they've done, not who they are. NOTHING.

What struck me from that is that we are called to embody love. Not tell them about love, not point them in the right direction to find love, but to embody love, to flesh it out, to put bones and muscles on the idea of what it means to love.
Because talking about love is easy. One of my favourite quotes is from a film called 'The Last Kiss.' It goes;

"Stop talking about love. Every asshole in the world says he loves somebody. It means nothing. It still doesn't mean anything. What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you say you love, that's what matters. It's the only thing that counts."

Any idiot can say they love someone, its easy. But actually loving someone, thats the difficult bit.
There's a song from a few years ago by Royksopp called 'Only This Moment.' In it there's a bit that goes "Love without pain isn't really romance."
Now I don't know, maybe its deliberate, but that to me seems to wrong way round. Romance without pain isn't really love. Because it hurts to love. Loving means doing the things that causes you pain, that puts others first, that hurts so much that you cry. Love means caring for others, about hurting when they hurt. Romance without this stuff? I reckon thats not really love.

Because love means doing something about it. Years ago at school we did this assembly about love and we all had to fit into this little pattern what love was. Ever since I've not been able to get the phrase 'Love is *clap* *clap* *clap* Making my mum a cup of tea' out of my head.
Loving my mum didn't mean saying it, it meant doing something about it, it meant putting myself out there for her (as a 9 year old, this was as close as I got!).
When Jesus talks about loving our neighbour he tells the story of the good samaritan. Love in this story meant going out of your way to help someone, it meant putting yourself second, it meant a re-alignment of your values, of your plans, of your priorities.

And that love changed things, it changed the life of the guy by the side of the road.
And thats the love I want to embody, thats the love I want to live.
Because love, in its rawest, purest form changes things. Love isn't static, it's not passive; its dynamic, its powerful, its epoch-shattering and world-changing. It's only by love that the world can and will be changed.

There's something wonderfully optimistic about love as well. Love is about saying "Yes and..." not "no but..." it's about looking for the best in the worst situations, the Bible says that love "always hopes, always perseveres." Love says that we will get through this, that it will get better, and that I will be with you in that.
This is how I want to love, I want to love in actions not words, I want to love so much that it hurts, I want to love till it changes situations, I want to love in hope and anticipation that the best is yet to come.
And it's this love, as I was reminded by an old, cassock-wearing, Archbishop with massive eyebrows today, that we, as youth-workers, as followers of Christ, as humans, are called to embody, to share, and to live by.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Cynicism, bitterness, sarcasm. The easy way out?

For those of you that know me, the title of this blog will make you laugh.
I thrive on cycnicism and sarcasm, I find it funny, it's easy and sometimes can make a serious point. I remarked recently that positivity is my kryptonite.
But nothing ever got done through sarcasm.
A clever quip won't change the world.

A show like 'The West Wing' is a great example of that. It's well known for its sharp, pacey dialogue, but that is the superfical layer of what's going on.
The life of the show comes from the heart of the characters, and the desire for real change in the Bartlett administration, and its when these characters interact on this deeper, meaningful level, that stuff is done, tasks accomplished and change brought about.

Haec credam a deo pio, a deo justo, a deo scito?
Cruciatus in crucem
Tuus in terra servus, nuntius fui; officium perfeci.
cruciatus in crucem,
Eas in crucem

My personal favourite moment in the show comes in the series 2 finale 'Two Cathedrals.' In one stunning scene the President (portrayed by Martin Sheen) is seen screaming at God in Latin after a close friend of his dies whilst he is forced to let killers on the other side of the world get away with it. His calm, focused exterior is stripped away in a scene of real passion and hurt about how unfair this all seems. And it is in this moment that Bartlett's decision to stand for re-election, against the odds, is made.

Am I to believe these things from a righteous god, a just god, a wise god?
To hell with your punishments!
I was your servant, your messenger on the earth; I did my duty.
To hell with your punishments!
And to hell with you!

These are honest, unashamed, broken words. A million miles away from wit and smarts.

And its this scene, more than any other, that has stayed with me, and millions that have watched the show. Because when it's all stripped away, we see the real thing don't we?
In our brokeness, our hurt, our longing, God can stick us back together, heal us, and use us to impact the world around us. It's in the hurt where there is healing, it's through the pain that there is change.

There's a worship which says 'When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come.'
It's so easy to cover ourselves in stuff- to hide ourselves, to make us feel safe, to cope. For me, I do this through being funny, in bitter and cynical ways. It's easy, it works for me, and it enables me to hide whats going on underneath. Now I believe God created me to laugh and with, occasionally, the gift to make others laugh, which in some situations is great. But I know there are times when I use this to cover stuff up, to make myself feel better and hide away the real issues.
But what makes the difference, what changes situations is when we're real. When we strip back our layers and come to God, to others, and to ourselves with honesty.

I was reminded today what it really means to be a friend.
It's not just being able to hang out, make each other laugh, and having stuff in common. It's about sticking with each other through the crap, supporting one another in the tough time, and loving them no matter what. I want to be that kind of friend.

I want to be that kind of disciple.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


I was watching this Nooma earlier. It makes me think.

Why is silence so hard to deal with?
183 million people are reguarly exposed to noise levels labeled as excessice by the Environmental Protection Agency
Do you have a cell phone? A Pager? Voice-mail?
Do you have a cell phone with voice-mail and e-mail?
Do you have a tv? More than one tv?
Do you have a radio on all day? On at work, in the car, at home?
Is there such a thing as visual noise?
Do you wish there were more billboards along the roads you drive?
Do we have enough strip malls yet?

Do you feel like God is distant?
Do you wish God's voice would be louder in your life?
Is there a connection between the amount of noise in our lives and our inability to hear God?

SUV's and minivans now come with separate CD and DVD systems for the back seats.
You can buy wired clothing now. Coats and jackets equipped with cell phones and MP3 players.

Try this.

Make yourself comfortable in your chair and begin breathing slowly as you read.

'Then Moses and the priests, who are levites, said to all Israel, "Be silent, Oh Israel, and listen!" (Deuteronomy 27:9)
'Search your heart and be silent.' (Psalm 4:4)
'But the Lord is in His holy temple: Let all the earth be silent before him.' (Habakkuk 2:20)
'Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.' (Jesus in Matthew 11)

If I am not still, and if I don't listen, how is Jesus going to give me rest?

Have you spent the same amount of time worrying and talking about your difficult, confusing situations as you have spent in silence, listening to what God might have to say?

Why is talking so much easier than listening?

'But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.' (Luke 5:16)

These were regular disciplines Jesus had.
When was the last time you were in a solitary space?
What is it about silence that is so difficult?
Why is it easier to surround myself with noise and keeping moving, than to stop, be silent and listen?

How much noise do I voluntarily subject myself to?
Does my schedule, my time, my life look like that of a person who wants to hear God's voice?
Maybe the healing and guidance we desperately need is not going to come from one more meeting or therapy session or sermon or self-help book,
but from simply listening for the voice of God.
Do you really believe that God's voice is more interesting than the voices around you?
Is it possible that you have been searching for God in the winds, the earthquakes and fires and he is waiting to speak to you in the silence?

Everytime I read this it challenges me. Especially with where I am right now (if you've read anything else on this blog you'll know what I mean).
And especially this bit;

Do you feel like God is distant?
Do you wish God's voice would be louder in your life?
Is there a connection between the amount of noise in our lives and our inability to hear God?


Have you spent the same amount of time worrying and talking about your difficult, confusing situations as you have spent in silence, listening to what God might have to say?

I so often surround myself with noise to find God. I love music and find God in this, any kind of music, he speaks to me through it, it's the way I operate and I love the way God uses that.
But so rarely am I in silence, even now as I write this I've got the TV on. And it will usually remain on until I go to sleep.

I love this bit of the Bible;

The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

God. Was. In. The. Silence.

So like yesterday, I'm making a change, day 1 has gone well so far, tomorrow, I want to find some silence and listen,

and wait,

and listen.

And expect God to move. Like I said yesterday, I know that God hasn't retreated, I know God wants to speak to me.

Making a change.

Saturday, 13 February 2010


I think what annoys me more when stuff seems to go tits up, is when I try to be positive, to make a change, and THEN things to tits up.
Yes ladies and gentlemen (and I know no-one reads this but in my head there are many of you) it's been one of those days.
And some of those things aren't that bad, some of them are worst in my head. Some things I tried to make an effort to change and situations prevent it.
In some ways I prefer it when I mess up, I can handle that I'm used to it. I remember writing a while ago "I can believe that God has an amazing plan for my life, what I can't believe is that I'm not going to mess it up." I can handle that, I'm used to my own failings.
It's when the situations are messed up that I struggle with, especially when I look at the things rationally they mean feck all. I've been through stuff that as genuinely shit, really, utterly cack. What got me through that time was relying on God and close friends and people around me.
The problem is that right now all this crap is piling up and I feel far away from God and the people I'd like to get me through, well they're not aiding the situation. Details would be unnecessary and nothing is going to change any time soon.
These time when I feel far from God it's not that God has retreated, it's that I have. The problem is, I get in this pile of rubbish and end up doing circles and the last thing I want to do is spend time with God. Back episode of Seinfeld and my bed seem far more enticing.
Ghandi said 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' You can make that smaller, I want to be the change I want to see in my life.
I know God is still there, I know he still loves me, I know he's still got a plan for me.
So I need to be that change. So tomorrow morning, starting then, I will see and make that change, whether it feels good or not.
Inevitably I'll fail but its the thought that counts right?
And if you speak to me, remind me yeah.
Lets get some sleep, hopefully tonight my bed won't be made of someone elses pants.
Still, tomorrow is sunday and Villa are on TV.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Dear you

You're not reading this. I am. And possibly anyone else who is.
It's complicated but simple.
If you haven't worked it out this might help.
Not that I'm expecting anything, I worked that out.
It's not about being angry or upset.
Just honest. Unfortunatly that doesn't count for anything.

Have a good one

I feel prolific

Like I said. Profound.
So what is this going to be. I've no idea. Inner ramblings, profound thoughts, a place to sort my head out, songs that inspire me,those moments where something bigger than all of us peeks through our messed up world.
And some nob gags