Superheroes!

super-heroes-2104643_960_720.pngHi folks, I hope you are all good, and that you are enjoying this incredible weather! I know I am!

This week I have been helping at a kids holiday club at Cullercoats… it’s been really fun! Our theme has been super heroes… We have looked at bible stories like David and Goliath, the boy with the loaves and fishes… There are so many amazing stories in the bible about ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things…  In some cases, they had faith to believe that the unbelievable could and would happen…

I often wonder if we have this kind of faith to believe the unbelievable… it sometimes feels difficult… to trust that these kinds of things can happen… But what I do know, is that people are, in and of themselves amazing and that people do extraordinary things all the time… we just don’t hear about them… although I did see a video of a lady on a flight from Sweden to Afghanistan that refused to sit down until they removed a passenger from the plane that was being sent back to Afghanistan as part of the immigration process, he was in fear of his life if he went home. Then of course there are those that get involved when they see sexism or racism and call it out. You can probably think of other amazing people that do incredible things…

I wonder if part of what it is to be a follower of Jesus is to be extraordinary in the everyday things and you know what… if we do that then maybe we might see the extraordinary things happen…

I hope you have a great summer, this is the last blog until September, when we will be back again.

Peace and we will see you soon!

Rob

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Inspired…

E06594A7-A9F8-4C21-A3DF-A34B050F1726.jpgHi folks, I hope you are all ok? 
 
Last weekend a few of us went to hear Rob Bell on the final date of his Holy Shift tour in Edinburgh. It was a great night… I’m not going to talk to you about what he said so much, but I’m going tell you the outcome for me… 
 
I’m not sure it was the same for everyone that heard him, but it made me ‘take notice’ and recognise ‘random’ situations as holy moments… Or as Rob Bell put it ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’ – Hebrew for ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’. The reasoning behind this is that lots goes on in life that we go….. eh… or…. oh…. or… wow… or… ouch… and a whole host of other random words… in other words we have no real idea what’s going on, but there is a sense of mystery… of awe and wonder… To show you what I mean I want to talk through a few random stories, that made me sit up and wonder…
 
The first one, relates to a lady I encountered in a shop on our way to Edinburgh. She was a Hindu lady serving on the tills, as I approached her she looked zoned out, going through the motions so to speak, she served us, and was fairly non-plussed. I did my usually thing of being overly thankful! I said that I hoped the rest of her day was a good one, and she gave me the most beautiful smile, it was a ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’ moment! 
 
My second story, also relates to the journey up in the car, we were heading to North Berwick for a stop off on the way for food, and as I came down the slip road to the roundabout an oldish man was cycling on the roundabout… I didn’t see him… thankfully Karen did… and shouted… “ROB”! Breaks slammed on and the guy cycled on without a care in the world… At that moment all was still… it was a moment… ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’.
 
My third story relates to my recent graduation after completing my MA, and it involves my wonderful 89 year old Mum and an amazing sunset on our return journey. My Mum’s eyes often sparkle, but seeing those eyes at the graduation was incredible… this was only enhanced by the sunset which placed everything in context, the combination of both of these experiences was beyond words for both Karen and I… ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’.
 
The fourth story relates to a summers evening with a couple of our closest friends Glenn and Angela and our little Molly dog. Molly is a special dog, she is nervous of anything and everything, she has about nine friends that she is comfortable around… everyone else she struggles with. On this particular day after two years of Angela and Glenn patiently being present but not pushing her, Molly jumped up and sat quietly on Angela’s lap and let Glenn stroke her… It was amazing to witness… ‘Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh’.
 
My final story relates to a guy, I have met him twice, he is an older gentlemen and likes his beer… and special flavoured cigarettes! My second encounter with him was only brief but none the less profound… he was in the place I was having a coffee and he was there with a mate for a beer, the waiting staff were around them both chatting to them as they are known in the area. I’m not sure he recognised me as he went inside to order, but we looked at each other, square on in the eyes… we held that pose for longer than I would do normally… as he looked at me, I said how ya doing… his reply was not one I could utter here! But behind his eyes there was something… ‘Kadosh’ Kadosh’ Kadosh’. 
 
Some questions…
 
Whats the strangest thing thats happened to you this week?
 
How do you explain or experience the random moments that happen to you?
 
What do you think of as being holy moments?
 
Could these weird moments we experience be ‘holy’?
Peace, Rob

Its all about the chocolate!

Chocolate02.jpgHi folks, I hope you are having a good week….

We all like a treat from time to time… hmmm, ok, maybe we like treats an awful lot! The 7th July is World Chocolate Day! Yeyyyyyyy!!!! Obviously the point of World Chocolate Day is to encourage the consumption of chocolate… What’s not to like!? The background around this, is that some people consider this to be the day that chocolate was introduced into Europe in 1550. There are also a number of other chocolate days… hmmm like EVERYDAY!!!

Anyway, why consider World Chocolate Day in a blog… well a couple of things come to mind… there are different tastes of chocolate, the main ones being dark and milk… they all have a unique taste about them, but they are still chocolate.

We could also talk about that great quote from Forest Gump… “life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you are going to get”, which illustrates that some people like to mess around with chocolate, putting other flavours in it, ginger, orange etc. While others of us, prefer the natural taste of chocolate.

Another thing that strikes me about chocolate is that we often send it as a gift to for a birthday, Christmas and when someone isn’t very well… This reminds me that our faith is full of good gifts… not least God’s love, that we receive freely… but that we should also give away… 

One of the other thoughts that struck me, was at the end of a meal, when you are trying to work out the bill, the waiter often brings it with a sweet, it is sometimes a mint, or fruit sweet, but it can also be a chocolate… It’s my favourite, although you are never sure of the flavour… What struck me was that because it is the end of the meal the taste lingers on the tongue… this helps us to remember the chocolate… the taste… the place we have eaten… and so much more. It is a reminder… it’s a form of communion…

Some questions…

What is you favourite chocolate?

Milk chocolate… dark chocolate… but still chocolate… what though, does this remind you of? 

What do you think about the Forest Gump quote?

What do you do with the ‘chocolate’ that you don’t like? 

How are you experiencing the gift(s) that God has given?

What other things act as a reminder to you about your own spirituality? 

Peace, Rob

How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?

life-1662879_960_720.jpgHi folks, this week we come to our final alpha theme… How Can I Make the Most of the Rest of My Life?
 
Great question!! If only it was simple to answer…
 
One of the tricky things about being a follower of Jesus is that it asks us to be different… Romans 12: 1-2 talks about some of this when it says `Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its mould.’ (JB Phillips translation)
 
It can sometimes be easy for us to do just that… to ‘blend in’… to be squeezed by the world… I think we have all been there… we have given in to peer pressure or we have gone with the flow…
 
I wonder though if ‘different’ isn’t a great phrase… maybe our faith asks us to be distinctive? Distinctive in the way we live our lives… Distinctive, because we follow Jesus.
 
I wonder if this distinctiveness is different for each one of us? We are all different and all in different situations, and the challenges we face are uniquely ours… So how can we be distinctive in the way we face situations?… Distinctive in the way we are with family, friends, those we work with, those who we meet once or twice, distinctive in the way we deal with the problems of the world, environment, war, peace…
 
How then does being distinctive help us? I think there are many things we could talk about here, but lets consider a couple that I think are important. The first one is love… it is central to the Christian faith… if we nurture love in our lives, and try and raise the bar for the way we experience it in our devotion to Jesus and also how we live that out, it will change us… I’m not saying it will be plain sailing… it won’t be… love can hurt… but love changes things… even us!
 
Another area is peace… if we are being distinctive in the way we are living our lives under Jesus then it should give us a sense of inner peace, that no matter what, we are doing our best and living distinctively.
 
So how do we make the most of our lives? Well it has something to do with digging deep into ourselves and discovering Jesus within us, and then it comes by being distinctive in the way we live it out…
 
So some questions…
 
What has been the best time of your life?
 
How do you think the world squeezes you/us to conform?
 
In what ways is it (or not) important to for you to be different/distinctive?
 
What does faith have to do with being distinctive?
 
Peace, Rob

World cup…

Welcome to d-church. We’re going to take a World Cup theme & use some of the words often associated with football (we’ve ‘borrowed’ this idea from the Christians in Sport website).

EXPECTATION

How far do you expect England to go?

Pole –

Get knocked out in the group stages?

Get knocked out in the second round?

Get Knocked out in the quarter finals?

Get knocked out in the semi final?

Get beaten in the final?

Or… Win it!

 

PASSION

What are you passionate about?

Football

Sport in general

Other

 

CONTROVERSY

Name something you’ve found controversial, and therefore perhaps difficult to handle in the last month. Maybe something from the News? Something from Political? Something in your own life?

 

COMMITMENT

Ponder this question to yourself, ‘Where in life do you need to show more commitment?’

PAIN

We offer our prayers for those in pain. Please add your prayers for others, individuals and places (first names only).

Check out this media clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PC41uY71OB0#action=share

 

VICTORY

Jesus died on the cross for us all but death could not hold him. He defeated death and rose again from the grave, proving he is who he said he was and that he had the power to beat death and offer us all life in all its fullness.

 

BLESSING

All of this can be summed up in a verse from the Bible that spectators over the years have held up throughout the World Cup tournament.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Jesus coming to earth, dying in our place and rising again is the greatest event of all time.

For more info go to Christians in Sport https://www.sportsmissionpack.co.uk/world-cup-2018

Healing……

Hi folks, I trust you are all ok… this week we are meeting at another trial venue… the Kings Arms in Seaton Sluice… meeting from 8.00pm…
 
This week we are tackling another of our Alpha themes by thinking about healing! This is another tough topic! So let us start by saying… we just don’t get it!
 
I suspect many of us have been in circumstances over the years where we have ‘prayed for healing’ either for ourselves or for others… this I guess, has left some of us with questions…
 
Healing in some senses is about humanity wanting to ‘fix’ things, to make things better… its often mechanistic… it goes something like this, ‘this is wrong… so this needs to happen to make it right’… and if it doesn’t, we try something else, until the options run out…
 
But I wonder if we should be thinking about healing in a different way… God is with us relationally and is involved with us from within… I don’t want to deny that sometimes miracles do happen, and people experience healing… but they may only be the tip of the ice-berg, because, underneath are the ‘everlasting arms’! In other words God is working within us in ways we do not know or understand. I came across this story which I think is interesting…
 
“A couple of years ago, my friend, under extreme stress, facing redundancy, developed a condition where her hands were paralysed. They became like immobile claws. Very difficult to do anything at all. She asked for prayer; but for a new job, not her hands! Maybe an extra disappointment or extra guilt at her lack of faith was something she calculated she could do without? A couple of hours later, the prayer offered (in spite of her request) for her hands was answered and full function returned, defying the expectation of the doctors. She did not get the full-time job she wanted though, although she has been able to resourcefully support herself. Here is part of the mystery, she got what she didn’t ask for, but clearly needed – healing of her hands. She did not get what she asked for, but maybe she doesn’t need right now. God knows.”
 
It seems to me, that yes, some people experience healing, and sometimes that is ‘miraculous’ and some people don’t… or at least not in the way we may ‘think’ it should occur. There is no doubt that God uses the miracle of medical science to heal and make things better, that, is a wonder in and of itself!
 
To help us… listen to this great sermon by Sam Wells, it really is worth a watch. Or go to about 10 minutes in and list to the middle and end sections. D
 
 
 
So some questions…
 
Have you ever broken a bone? What was it like? How did it feel when it was ‘healed’?
 
Did you watch the video? What did you think?
 
What is your experience of healing?
 
Which do you think healing is?
 
How should we pray for healing?
 
Peace, Rob

Ambivalence…

6835060992_de52d24f52_b.jpgHi folks, i hope you have had a good week… 

I wonder if you have noticed something? Did you know that you had to have a definitive view on EVERYTHING!!! Thats right… everything… Brexit… God… who to vote for… marmite… North Korea… We are to look at the world in black and white. Well actually… it’s not that simple… there seems to be a forgotten word in the english language, that is ambivalence! I think it’s a word I could learn to love!  But for much of our lives we are pressured to find the ‘answer’, to have reached a conclusion…

Ambivalence means “undecided” I wonder if we are undecided on many issues in the world, in our communities and maybe in our own lives. But being ambivalent is a state that is thought of as negative or weak, to be avoided, it’s considered as being about not caring… but I wonder if it is a sign of strength. To not have a view of something means that you are open… open to have your ideas and views changed, open to see that there are many grey areas, open enough to see the various sides of an argument.

Within my own Christian journey I have become more ambivalent, coming from a more conservative evangelical perspective I was supposed to hold on to some sense of certainty on many issues… but I find myself in a very different place now… a place where I’m able to sit on the fence if you like… neither for or against. I want to see things from others perspectives… Don’t get me wrong, there are things I have a view and an opinion about… but I wonder if we need to be brave enough to say actually I’m not sure. On a recent episode of question time one of the guests was asked to give a view about assisted dying… his reply was short… he said he doesn’t have a strong view and told David Dimbleby to move on to someone who does… I loved it! He wasn’t going to make up a view for the sake of it…

So some questions…

Marmite… Yes… No… ambivalent?

Peanut Butter…?

How do you see/understand ambivalence?

What issues are you ambivalent about?

What issues do you have a strong view on?

Can you think of examples where followers of Jesus should be ambivalent?

Peace Rob

Childhood Memories…

31739941_10155699454683737_4133724259384033280_n.jpgThis week we are meeting in the Crescent Club ‪from 8pm‬. In case you haven’t been before we meet in the upstairs bar at the front of the club.

Childhood memories…

I can’t remember much about my early years and I certainly only have a few memories from primary school… I remember being taken round the whole school by the head teacher when I was about 7 after I stole pipe cleaners from Mr Foster’s cupboard (to make myself some funky pipe cleaner glasses!). I also remember being top of the class when I was in year 5 after my mum promised I could get my ears pierced if I came in the top 3 – Michael Burn was very cheesed off as he normally came top. I also remember some of the weird meals I was made to eat as a child – ‘kid’s casserole’, ‘branflake mince’ and spam fritters.

In terms of my Christian journey I remember being made to go to Sunday School every Sunday and singing songs about Zacchaeus being ‘a very little man’ and other classics like ‘he’s got the whole world in his hands’. I also remember being in various nativity plays and waving palm crosses at Easter. When I was 16 and came out the top end of Sunday School I was asked to be a Sunday School teacher and of course said yes as it meant I didn’t have to stay in church for the full service. I can honestly say that I had no real idea about the meaning of the cross or that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus at that age. It wasn’t until I was at uni that I started to understand the personal nature of the Christian faith. I’m still not sure I understand a great deal more than I did when I was a teenager but I’ve certainly got a different view of God – he’s not a white man with a big beard sitting on a cloud anymore.

So some questions….

What is your earliest memory?
What is the naughtiest/funniest thing you did as a child?
What culinary horrors did you have to endure?
How did you view God when you were growing up? Has this changed?
What do you remember being taught about God/Jesus etc?
What messages do we/society give children about God/faith?

Feel free to share your childhood photos on here or bring them along on Sunday night when we’ll be discussing these questions.

St George…

Welcome to d-church…

31179901_2474253072600893_4748123351068027387_n.jpg

Did anyone celebrate St George’s Day if so, did you do anything special?

If you were stopped and ask who was St George, would you know?

Check out this link…

https://youtu.be/i-TqPHkM8ME 

Take a moment to read this story from the Bible

Defining “Neighbour”

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbour as well as you do yourself.”

 “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbour’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbour to the man attacked by robbers?”

 “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Today, in your context, how would you define neighbour?

This link to BBC News shows some of the issues we’ve all been hearing about recently regarding the Windrush generation. You might like to look at some of the stories about our neighbours.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43794366

Today we pray for our neighbours. 

Closing Prayer

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Resurrection…

Afternoon! This week’s reflection comes from Andrew…

It’s been said that this world is a tough place to live.
And parts of it certainly are. Places like Antarctica with it’s frigid cold; the top of mountains with their thin air; deserts with their lack of water and vegetation; the oceans with their tidal waves, hurricanes, etc. – places like these are pretty inhospitable to human life.

But it’s not just these sorts of extreme places that are hard to live in. The regular parts of the world are tough too. We learn this as children. We start learn to walk and right way what happens? We trip and fall over.

Yet, God created this world and God said it was good when S/He created the oceans and the land, and all the rocks and creatures in it and God hopes we’ll love it, care for it, and think it’s good too!
But what God didn’t create and what God doesn’t love is the ways that we tend to run our societies. God doesn’t love it that we’ve created a world where we live by the law of the jungle, where “might makes right,” where we compete and hoard, where powers and domination systems place the overwhelming majority of humanity into abject poverty and misery

The first major, massive scale, instance of this kind of human created system of power and might was the world’s first territorial empire, the Roman Empire. Rome conquered many nations through the means of military, political, economic, and ideological exploitation and domination.

the Roman “Emperor Cult” was born which was the heart and soul of the Roman Empire. It created a unifying ideology which asserted that Caesar was God, that he was Son of God, that he was Savior, Redeemer, and Lord! And Rome expected all of it’s subject nations to call him those things too, until Jesus came along that is…

the way that Jesus taught was that of out-right, defiance and rejection of any powers that be, any powers or principalities that dare to usurp God’s power in God’s world.

And then, …”the Empire struck back.” The domination system conspired against Him and it meted out the worst it could do. It had Him arrested, beaten, and executed. One thing the Powers That Be can’t tolerate is being rejected and so they rejected Him! They killed Him. As they say in Communist China, “the nail that rises up gets hammered back down.” Take that! End of story. And with that, Jesus’ disciples (at least the men) hid away in fear.

Some contend that God doesn’t really intervene in the world in ways that violate the laws of physics such as literally resuscitating bodies back to life or rolling away heavy stones from tombs. Such persons can still celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as a human-made act of civil disobedience and resistance against Empire. By continuing to follow a peasant who’d been crucified on a garbage heap and claim that his teachings and Way are true and that the Empire’s ways aren’t. Collectively saying that “Jesus lives!” and that “Jesus is Lord – and Caesar isn’t!” – and that following Jesus’ Way is what provides assurance, wholeness, peace, and salvation – not Rome’s – is a resurrection. It’s an Insurrection of a Resurrection.

What thoughts if any do you have after reading this?

Does Jesus’ way of Love make much sense in today’s world?

How would a kind of “suffering servanthood” make a difference or transform our world of new empires and huge and powerful systems and institutions?

Paz, Andrew30742952_10213562994202279_7151663488569283697_n.jpg