What's Love Got to do with it?

What if we've missed the point? What if Love Wins is enough? And why Rob Bell may just be right.

Right On our doorstep

Think that slavery is a thing of the past? Think that the UK is too civilised to be part of trafficking? Think again

5 reasons why being married to Brit is great (or 5 reasons to marry an American)

5 things you will never know until you marry an American

Masturbation Month

Giving up masturbation for a month. Why we need to save the kittens.

XXXchurch! Whaaa?

Why I love porn (ministries).

24 Dec 2009

How Rage Against the Machine Saved Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and even though most of us are still unsure about what Santa is going to bring us, or what colour of socks we will get this year, one traditional Christmas event has already been decided upon.

The now 'formerly' x factor, Simon Cowell, everything that is wrong with music' sponsered Christmas number 1.

Last Sunday, much to the delight and excitement of millions of people, for the first time since 2002, a single from an x factor contestant hasn't reached the coveted Christmas number 1 spot. The Christmas number 1 used to be something everyone, even if you didn't normally care about the charts, looked excitedly to. But for a few years now, it's beeen completely monopolised by the x factor.

Not this year. No Sir. An amazing facebook campaign has finally ended that with Rage Against the Machine's 'Killing In The Name' as the number 1 at Christmas.

It's amazing. Never in a million years did I think this track would ever get close to being a number 1, never mind at Christmas. But it has. And that's a good thing.

Because despite what anyone says 'Killing in the Name' is the best Christmas song ever. Sorry Slade fans, sorry Chris Rea, you can drive on home, sorry Joe, sorry even the Pogues (as much as it pains me) but none of you have even hit anywhere near the mark on the Christmas message as much as Rage Against the Machine have.

I'm sure they never intended it to be a Christmas song, but the meaning and emotion behind it reveals the very heart of the Christmas message.

Rage Against the Machine have saved Christmas. Jesus will be happy.

How so, you may ask. Join me on a journey through time and space (well time anyway).

When Jesus was born, he was born in a town in Israel called Bethleham. His parents Joseph and Mary had travelled there to take part in a census that the Roman Empire required everyone to take part in, to help with military stuff and taxes. So Joseph was required to return to his hometown and so his wife and son accompanied him.

When they arrived there, they were visited by some wise men (probaby astrologers) who came to pay their respect to the new King of the Jews i.e. Jesus. But when they got there they asked the possibly first ever pantomime villian, King Herod (booo sssss) where he was (not behind him as it turns out). Herod liked having power and he used it to great effect to rule over his people. Sooo, obviously he wasn't too keen on their being another King of the Jews, especially a baby. So he pretended he wanted to worship the baby, and asked the wise men to return to him when they found him. Ooh sneaky.

Of course God had other ideas, as he usually does. And it was a good job he did because Herod, as I'm sure you've guessed already didn't want to goo and ga at Jesus, so much as, well brutally murder him.

So the wise men took a swift detour to Egypt, as did Joseph and Mary. And this is where I think the message of Christmas is often overlooked.

Joseph and Mary decided that it wasn't a good idea to hang around. They decided that following the leader of the country was wrong. I'm not even sure they stuck around for the census. They decided that the Roman Empire and KIng Herod weren't all they cracked up to be. They decided that there had to be a different way. A better way.

And if Jesus coming to Earth and Killing in the Name shows us nothing else, it is that there is a better way, an alternative way of thinking, of acting, of treating each other.

We're presented with so many things at Christmas, that this message has been lost somewhere. The message that Jesus came to allow us to be free, to buck the trend. To change our perception of how to love each other. The Christmas story tells us there are two ways of living. The Herod Christmas and the Jesus Christmas.

The Herod Christmas tells us that its all about OUR power and needs. The Jesus Christmas tells us its all about OTHERS and people who need help.

Herod Christmas says we need to spend massive amounts of money to show we love people. Jesus Christmas tells us we can give money to people who have nothing, so they can eat on Christmas Day and every other day.

Herod Christmas tells us that those in power are always right. Jesus Christmas tells us that power comes in how we treat others well, not in showing our dominance.

Herod Christmas says that strength is in power over people. Jesus Christmas says that strength is in loving people.

And this is the message of Christmas that Rage Against the Machine are expressing, even if they know it or not.

"And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control".

Joseph and Mary did not do what they were told and so they became free. They realised the truth, that much of what society or our Governments, or our Religious estbalishments tell us, is wrong. They realised that there was injustice going on in the world and it doesn't have to be like that.

They realised there is a better way. A way that gives everyone life, not just those who want control.

They realised that life is about looking to Jesus and realising that Christmas should be about loving others in ways that matter, not by making ourselves sick with food, or entertaining ourselves with stuff we get bored with quickly.

But by meeting with a friend who needs to talk to someone. To go and give food and a blanket to someone who will be sitting in the snow on Christmas Day. To sacrifice a present this year and give money to a family who need it to pay the bills.

Jesus came so we can change how we live. Yeah he came to save us from our crap. But he came for so much more. To show us a way of loving others rather than ourselves.

A way that requires us to sometimes say

We won't do what you tell us

21 Dec 2009

God time.....or other suitably rubbish names for Quiet times Part 1

Last week I started to try and get into the rhythm of something that I have never really been that good at. The dreaded QT. Quiet times. I want to talk about a few things that I think I have learned over the last week about God and spending time with him.

I wish I was the kind of person who was able to sit down and feel God's presence and not get distracted. But I'm not. Plus I always felt Quiet times were boring and for the overly religious. I never thought God was boring but I just thought spending time with him was. Strange.

So last week I decided to have a quiet time every morning for the week. If only to see how it changed me, if at all. I have never been one for disciplines. I always thought they would make me boring and condescending or something like that. But I knew that if I at least gave it a go, then I could say I have made an effort getting to know God better.

Mistake number 1.

You see I thought that quiet times were going to radically change me. They were going to stop me sinning. They were going to stop me being tempted. They were going to give me some sort of understanding about God that was going to solve all my problems.

But it didn't.

And normally that would be enough to put me off doing it anymore.

But it hasn't.

And why? Because I think I have learned something important about quiet times. They aren't meant to magically solve everything. They are meant to be about being in God's prescence.

I read in an article recently about a guy who struggled with temptation and depression, who used to ask God to take away all his problems, to heal him.

But everytime he just heard silence.

I can relate to that. Wanting God to just take away some problem in my life so that I could properly follow him. I prayed so many times that if he took it away he would see a new me. For me it was porn. For you it could be something else. It doesn't really matter.

But for the guy that wrote the article and for me, we were often met with silence. I think that if God solved all our problems, or took away all our temptations we would simply look for something else. We wouldn't really be satisfied. We wouldn't really see a 'new' me. We would head somewhere else instead.

And that's what I think the point of quiet times are.

Jesus.

Jesus wants a relationship with us. He doesn't want to be our genie.

Sure he might grant us our wish but do I know Jesus better because of it?

If I woke up tomorrow and I wasn't tempted anymore does that mean I will be closer to Jesus?

I don't think so. I think we should have quiet times so we can get closer to God. Just enjoy his presence. Let him into everything we are experiencing. Not just to solve our problems. Be honest.

Does God want to save us from the things we struggle with? Of course he does.

But if thats all he does then we aren't really getting to know and enjoy him and we aren't really growing.

And that's why I am going to stick with times with God. Because even if I don't sin anymore I still won't have Jesus.

And I would rather have Jesus.

3 Dec 2009

The Nightmare 'AT' Christmas

When I get to this time of the year I usually start looking forward to getting the Christmas edition of the Radio Times or eagerly wait for the first play of 'Fairy tale of New York' by the Pogues on the Radio (Only then can Christmas officially start).

I love Christmas and it is easily my favourite time of the year but I am feeling a different kind of emotion this year. I'm still excited and I'm still looking forward to spending time with my family but something is changing in me this year.

As a kid Christmas was a time when the world stopped and everything became wonderful. Whatever crap was going on in the world it stopped for a few days so everyone could be part of this wonderful time. That's how my mind thought it was anyway.

And it's only been in the past year that I think I realised properly and in a real way that's not how it goes.

The breakthrough came for me earlier in the year when I saw the documentary 'The Rescue' from Invisible Children.

(If you have never heard of Invisible Children head right over here now and read and become aware.

Very briefly, 'Invisible Children' is working to end the abduction of children who are being forced to fight in a rebel army called the Lord's Resistance Army.

At the end of last year and start of 2009, 620 civilians were murdered and 120 children abducted over a two week period, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most of these attacks occuring over two days.

And what were those two days?

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2008.

If you are reading this I want that to sink in. Hundreds of innocent people were brutally slaughtered and their lives changed horribly forever over Christmas.

That's not even a year ago.

I don't know about you but when I think about that, it wakes me up to what's going on in the rest of the world.

I can remember what I was doing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year like it was yesterday.

I was working on Christmas Eve and probably complaining about it. I thought my life sucked. Earlier in the day I met up with friends for our now annual Christmas coffee meet up. It was great. Christmas Day was near. I was getting to hang out with good friends. Enjoy coffee and good times. I was excited to go to Church the next Day and feel all Christmassy. Not to mention all the amazing food I was going to devour.

In a jungle in Africa, kids were being torn from their families and hundreds of innocent people were being physically mutilated, raped or murdered.

On Christmas Day I went to Church. I enjoyed the Carols. I enjoyed my friends. The Christmas treats afterwards were to die for. I hung out with my cousins at my Grans and had a great time. I opened presents and I ate well. I laughed and felt warm inside and I can say I was pretty happy.

In a village in Africa, parents were mourning the loss of their children. Still alive possibly, but chances are may never see again.

It's sobering.

I don't want to make anyone feel guilty. The truth is Christmas is a time when we should be with family and friends and we should be celebrating. But for a lot of people they aren't. For many kids last year, Christmas Eve was not about being excited about seeing Santa, but about being terrified of seeing the LRA.

Just because we are having a great time at Christmas doesn't mean everyone is.

But I think we can make a difference this year.

I think we can make a sacrifice this year so someone can gain something. There are lots of ways we can help. We can give someone a gift they aren't expecting. We can give a child a home. You can raise awreness about something evil that could happen again this Christmas, by getting your friends round and telling them about abducted child soldiers and using your gifts to help.

Or you could just have coffee with a friend and let them tell you what they are going through.

Whatever it is. This Christmas my challenge to myself is to remember the world doesn't just stop for two days. And then to take action.

10 Nov 2009

Internot

In a few hours time I will be doing something I haven't done since I was probably about 14. No I won't be listening to my Disturb CD (wow what was I thinking? What a terrible band)

No I will be going without the internet for a week. If the truth be told I have never gone without the internet before. I mean when I was 14 I didn't really know much about it and certainly didn't have access to it anytime I wanted.

But now I am going to say goodbye to it.

For a week at least.

Yesterday I wrote about why I am doing this but today I want to talk about how I am feeling about it before. Consider it the hypothesis of my little experiment.

When I decided to do this I was a bit unsure if I could. There were so many things that I would miss. Things that have become so essential to me everyday. So I want to talk about 3 things I think I will miss the most.

1/ Facebook. I mean when I wake up everyday my first port of call is facebook. It has become the best way to porcrastinate for probably most of the country. It's like our whole world, our lives, our favourite things, our friends and it's all on one site. It's like we don't want to miss out on anything. If I don't go on facebook I will miss out on something huge.

Where did that idea come from? Why do I think like that? What will happen if I can't communicate with my friends through facebook? Maybe I am scared of actually having to communicate directly with people. What if I can't 'like' what you are doing right now.

It's not like I will be cut off from everyone I know, but maybe it will force me to engage with people properly. I see not being on facebook as taking my life out of facebook and bringing it back into reality.

2/ Spotify. Spotify has only come into my life recently but I think I could miss this the most. Free music on my computer. New albums by my favourite bands right there for me to listen to without having to pay a penny. It's awesome.

I use it when I am on the internet for background music. How will I cope? I haven't played a CD except in my care in donkeys.

I think this will force me to start playing music more. I have started playing the piano the last couple weeks again. And I love it. I have rediscovered my love for making music. If this is one possible plus of not having music to listen to, then I am excited.

3/ My favourite blogs. Lastly the thing I think I will miss the most are the blogs I read. Sites like xxxchurch.com, stuffchristianslike and invisiblechildren are included in my daily 'internet check up'. I visit these sites everyday and they are important for me because they help me think about things. They challenge me, they inspire me. They get me excited and believe in the impossible.

Where am I going to look for those things now? As a Christian we are supposed to have 'quiet times'.

For me these sites have kind of become mine. Not that that is bad. They help me think about my relationship with Jesus. I like them because they are never the same. Thinking about God doesn't get so boring.

Maybe it will force me to read the Bible more. Maybe I will read books in general more. Will this be a good thing? I think so. Right now I think I will come out of this experience deciding that I need to pray more and read the Bible more. Those sites I visit should encourage me to get into the Bible more. But they haven't. So far. And I think after this week they will.

So those are three of the things I will miss out on. Of course there lots more. I am genuinely excited to see how this week goes. Maybe that's sad. But I think it will be good for me.

Throughout the week I will keep a diary of sorts. Somewhere to record my thoughts and experiences and then next week I will share how it went.

Only a few hours to go.

But for now this will be my last blog post for a while.

Over and out...

9 Nov 2009

Work Offline

It's crazy to think that only a few years ago when you got broadband you were at the cutting edge of internet capabilities. Friendsreunited was the best social networking site around and Napster meant we could listen to any music we like. (Thanks Lars!!)

Now unless you have an iphone or a Blueberry or at least a phone with the ability to connect to facebook you are seen as a modern day neanderthal.

How did we cope before the internet? I actually can't remember. I actually can't. My life can't have been fun. I mean how did I know what was going on?

How did we have banter with our friends before facebook status and comment?

How did we listen to music and discover new bands?

How did we arrange to meet up with people?

How did we express our opinions?

What did we do when we were bored?

These are important questions I think, which is why I am going to give up the internet for a week. No more facebook, no more youtube, no more twitter, no more Spotify!

Even writing that last sentence has given me a panic attack. Can I really do without those things?

Honestly? I don't know.

But I want to find out. I want to find out how my life is affected. I want to find out whether its better or worse. Will it affect me at all? Will it affect the type of person I am? Will it affect my relationships? Will it turn me into a recluse?

I don't know. I hope not but I am excited to find out.

I'm not doing this because I think the internet is evil. I'm not doing this to prove we don't need all the things the internet provides?

Because I think the internet is a wonderful thing. And I think it has opened my eyes to the world. To issues that I wouldn't have known about without it. Things like child soldiers in Norhern Uganda. To friends I had lost contact with. That's been a positive thing. It's almost ruined my life by letting me have access to porn anytime I like. That's not so good.

So we'll see how it goes. I could go crazy after a few hours. I could cave in and run back into the arms of facebook before breakfast. You might find me wandering the streets late at night looking for someone to give me a hit of their iphone.

But it could be good for me too. I guess we will find out soon enough.

So from Wendesday night I will be offline.

Tomorrow I will write a bit about how I am feeling before I start.

Now. Can anyone show me how to use a pen again?

2 Nov 2009

Jesus, the Pharisee, the Prostitute and I

My whole life I have pretty much been surrounded by all things 'Christian'.

I went to Sunday School, Church, BB, JAM Club, Scripture Union, CE (sometimes ;)).

I have been involved with ministries like Street Reach, Athletes in Action, Christians In Sport and Ambassadors in Sport ( I fully endorse anything 'in Sport').

I have read "If you want to walk on water....", 'What's so Amazing About Grace', and 'Blue Like Jazz'. I have not read anything by Joel Osteen however. Oh well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad!!

My point being I have pretty much been involved or read or experienced most of the traditional Northern Irish Christian activities.

I don't say that to show off or seem cool. If you were brought up in a Christian house in Northern Ireland, you most likely can identify with all these things, probably more.

In fact, I think I benefited a lot from the few years at Uni when I almost never went to Church or had any Christian culture impacted on me.

Maybe that sounds strange but without that I wouldn't have started questioning stuff, I wouldn't have thought differently about Christianity which to be honest was becoming boring and irrelevant to me. I wouldn't have started reading stuff by people like Rob Bell, which have without exaggerating, changed my life.

If you have been brought up in a Christian family and never gone through that rebellious period that is great. This is not an attack on what I am positive was a great time of growth for you.

But for me, I think I needed a bit of a break. I needed God for sure. I always have, I still do and I always will, but I also needed to break out of the Christian bubble. I think I would have suffocated if not.

One of the problems I had, even though I maybe didn't know it at the time, was that I didn't appreciate Jesus. I had heard about Jesus my whole life but I didn't really know about Jesus. I didn't really know who he was and just how subversive he is.

Things like Salvation were just words I understood but I wasn't fully impacted by. I got comfortable with Jesus. I got too familiar with the fact that he died for me. It started slowly to not mean much to me.

I hear stories of poeple whose lives were messes and who then found Jesus and they are so passionate about their new faith and sometimes it doesn't sound familiar to me. It's like they appreciate Jesus more.

And I wish that was how I felt.

In Luke 7 Jesus has dinner at the house of a Pharisee called Simeon. At some point during the dinner a prostitute walks in off the street and starts to cry in front of Jesus. As if that wasn't bad enough she lets her hair down (which was a big no no) and starts to wipe Jesus' feet and anoint them. All that sounds pretty bad but at least it was more than what Simeon did. Which was nothing.

The woman knew that she was a mess. She knew her life was in tatters and she knew that Jesus could help. And he did. He saved her from the things she was doing. He gave her a new life. He liberated her.

Simeon though, was maybe less aware of his sins. He was confused. His guests were confused. They didn't know what just happened. Simeon didn't really know who Jesus was. He didn't really appreciate Jesus.

I think that I am more like Simeon a lot of the time. I have been immersed in religion for so long that it fogs the fact that I need Jesus. It stops me from seeing that I am pretty messed up and I need him.

I don't appreciate Jesus enough. I don't see who Jesus really is.

And I want that to change.

I want to wake up every day and remember that I need Jesus. I want to remember things I have struggled with in the past and things I struggle with today and remember that Jesus can save me. I want to appreciate what he did for me more.

Most of the time I act like Simeon and don't love Jesus enough. The prostitute was so indebted to Jesus that she anointed his feet. She understood how amazing what Jesus did was. Simeon didn't get that. He offered Jesus nothing.

Simeon had lived as part of the religous elite for most of his life. The prostitute lived as part of the worst and most despised people, most of hers.

It was the religious person who didn't treat Jesus like he deserved. It was the person who was as far away from the 'religious' life that you could get, that did.

When I take Jesus for granted and I don't learn from my mistakes, or when I treat people badly, or when I want my own way and don't think of how that will affect others, I am acting like Simeon.

When I become too caught up in 'Christian' activities and religion I lose sight of Jesus and what he has done for me.

So this week I want to start looking at Jesus more.

I want to appreciate him more.

I want to give more of me to Jesus than I have.

Maybe we should all be a bit more like the prostitute.

31 Oct 2009

New Wardrobe

Every now and then you get those moments when you hate your clothes and you feel like you need a bit of a drastic change. And that's how I am feeling about the layout of my blog, so expect over the next while a few changes, including a much brighter easier to read layout.

So to start it all off I have installed intense debate, for comments. It's a lot easier to use, you can now comment via twitter and facebook and well just looks better. So please feel free to give it a go and let me know what you think.

Stay tuned for a brand new post tomorrow!

15 Oct 2009

God is not a salesman

One of the things I love about Jesus Club is that it has been challenging my perception of Church and where we find God. Traditionally in Northern Ireland Church is a Sunday morning do. It's when we meet together and sing songs, and listen to a sermon. Pray a bit and then have coffee. And there is nothing at all wrong with this. It can be a beautiful thing.

But I have started seeing Church as more about people than theology, or Matt Redmon songs. (Yep you heard it here first, you can have a legitimate Church experience without Blessed Be His Name). The thing I love about the group is that a few guys who agree and disagree on a lot of things can meet and talk about God and not end up with black eyes at the end. I see Jesus Club as a place where we can meet and talk and respect each others opinions and be open to having our beliefs challenged instead of being defensive about out our beliefs.

Jesus Club is by no means an official name for our small gathering. But I like it. One of us started calling it that and I like it because its not cool. In fact it sounds like something I would want to stay away from but in its uncoolness lies its inherent beauty. Sometimes Church tries to be cool and edgy but as Don Miller once said "Chrisitianity will never be cool". Or something along those lines.

His point being I think that Jesus is not about being cool because cool is something that the world dictates. And Jesus is true and cool changes and so how can it be true. Jesus offers an alternative, a better way, a real way. I'll take that over cool thank you very much. But I digress.

What church should look like is something that Chapter 4 of Blue Like Jazz talks a lot about. I'm not going to review the book in this mini series of mine (again...you NEED to read this book), but bring up some of the stuff that was brought up in Jesus Club.

In the chapter, Don's friend Penny didn't feel like Jesus would like her and this was mainly down to how she viewed other Christians opinions of her. As judgemental and that they were trying to sell something.

Unfortunately church is a lot like that sometimes. Sometimes even Christians to Christians. We judge people because they believe slightly different things to us instead of stopping and listening and trying to see what it is exactly the other person is telling us. We are very precious of some of our personal beliefs.

And I think at Jesus Club we are trying to be the opposite. To listen and learn from each other instead of being quick to attack. We have disagreed about many things but somehow we still like each other, there is no awkwardness or distance between us because of our disagreements. If anything our honesty about our disagreements is bringing us closer. Honesty doesn't allow room for fake.

And I hope that our differences are also helping us to change the perception of people who don't follow Jesus (might take up a few more words but I have never liked the term 'non christian') from seeing Church as closed to people who don't subscribe to everything that Christians do. Not everyone in the group is a Christian but I honestly think that everyone likes the idea of Jesus. Just maybe not always certain aspects of Christianity.

And there is sadly often a lot not to like. What I love about Penny's story though is that her journey to know God did not happen in Church. It began by her spending time with one person who showed Jesus through her actions. She didn't try to persuade her she was wrong. Or judge her. She just loved her. Wow. Sounds so simple. So why do we not get it sometimes? Why do we insist on adding on our own requirements to be loved by Jesus? Jesus didn't have any.

But it was that simple. Her view of Christianity changed because her view of Jesus changed through one person showing her what Jesus is really like. She read Matthew and in it she read about Jesus and what he was like. Not what Christianity is like, or what it has been like over the years, but Jesus. The perceptions she had started to slowly change.

And actually when I wrote that Penny's journey to know God did not happen in Church, that is wrong. That is wrong because Penny and Nadine was Church. The two of them talking and one of them who knew Jesus loving the other one, with the only agenda to make sure that the other is loved, is Church.

And that is why I love how Jesus club is changing my perception of Church. Because we are a Church. The fact that some of us differ doesn't change the fact we are Church one bit. Even though we don't sing songs or collect an offering doesn't change that we are Church. I hope and pray we are inclusive. You don't need to believe in the 'right' stuff to be a part of it.

I hope that everyone in the group will see Jesus in each other. Not because I want to 'win' some of the guys for Jesus. Not because I want them to agree with my theology.

But because I want them to know what it's like to be loved by Jesus so much that when I repeatedly do something stupid never seemingly learning from my mistakes, he still loves me.

Or when I face a hopeless situation I know that it's not really hopeless.

Or when I can't see my purpose he shows me.

Maybe we will see something amazing happen in our communities and lives when we start to love each other like Jesus loves us. Unconditionally and finally learning to set our own agendas aside.

Maybe when we open up church so that it doesn't judge you then we can allow Jesus love to really be experienced by everyone.

Now wouldn't that be just Heaven?

21 Sep 2009

Pulling together

Sometimes, though very rarely, I get those moments when you realise that there is something specific about life you are supposed to be learning. Something relevant to you, right where you are, right amongst everything you are going through, right smack in the face.

And I had one of those moments this week. A few different things all came together at the same time to teach me a lesson I needed to learn.

Let me picture the scene for you.

My fiancee (that was for you Brittany, see I do remember) and I are doing a kind of sweets fast. No sweets or chocolate etc at all except for one day a week. We have attempted this before and it feels good to do somethine like this together. But the point is that I love chocolate and I to not eat any during the week is a real challenge. One, that if it was up to me I would have abandoned long ago. But I know from fasting before it will be worth it.

That doesn't change the fact that when I am alone and Brittany isn't around the temptation is very high to buy myself a deliciuous bar of Whispa Gold (thank God for Whispa Gold, that is all I will say). It would taste so good and yummy and would make me feel so good. I have no doubt about that.

It's the next time I am with Brittany and she asks me how I am getting on with our fast when trouble begins. The temptation is then to lie and say I have had nothing to eat. But that could lead to more lies and even though it may seem trivial over a bar of chocolate it could start to snowball.

But the temptation to taste chocolate is too much for me on my own. And if it was down to me I would give in. But thankfully it's not. Thankfully I know I can text Brittany and when I do she will reply with encouragement. I know that I am not alone in this. I know that when I am struggling I have someone who I can talk to, someone who will help me see what I'm not seeing.

The last few weeks I have also started up with accountability with a friend and having someone to turn to when the heat gets too much as far as temptation with lust and porn in involved, is so freeing. Anytime I feel like turning on the computer and searching for porn I know that when I text my friend he will be right there to offer me encouragement and help me see past the moment. And hopefully vice versa.

Thirdly, it's been great to start meeting up with some new friends and talk through Blue Like Jazz together. It's what church should be. Studying and talking and learning from each other. Even though we don't always agree we know that we can do that without it turning into a fight. We know that we can come to a safe place and be open and know that there will be people who can help us.

These three things together have helped me to view the importance of community. We aren't supposed to go it alone. We are supposed to help each other, not judge each other and we are meant to love each other. It's been great learning this recently. It has been freeing.

I have wasted so much time in the past trying to go it alone. I have tried to pretend that I don't need help. I have always been like that. But this week I think I have reached a turning point. I think now I will stop before I face a challenge and think would it be easier to go it alone or do I need help.

This isn't anything new. From day 1 God knew that we wouldn't be able to cope on our own. That's why he created Eve for Adam (I think it's interesting that it was the man that needed help)

In Colossions Paul ends the book talking about all the people who are helping the church. He lists all these people who care and who are praying for the church. Because they know that we all need help. There is a community feel to this church. It feels like you can be yourself and you don't need to be afraid of being laughed at or hurt.

I like this. And I think when church starts living this out we can all grow and we can solve so many problems in our own lives and in church. When we can be honest with each other and know that there will be help without being judged, we can start living like we were meant to be.

In community.

17 Sep 2009

BLJ Part 2- Problems

I didn't quite get around to writing last week about our first week reading Blue Like Jazz. But I am ready to wrong that, though I will be skipping right ahead to chapter 2.

It could be quite pointless writing all this. I mean why read what I have to say about the book when you can just read the book itself. Which you should. But please join in if you like. The more the merrier. Feel free to comment and agree, disagree, call me a Heretic or just say Hi.

So to business.

What I love about Chapter 2- 'Problems'- is that it has helped me understand the human condition better. If you are a Christian in Northern Ireland then you know that we are all sinners and need saved. Well at least that's what we are told. And ultimately I believe this and I affirm this. However I never felt comfortable with it. I never liked this. It felt like when I wanted my friends to know about God that I had to start a conversation with this statement and that's just awkward.

It's not a great conversation opener to be honest. Telling people that they need saved is kind of arrogant if you think about it, as if you have the answers already. But I think this is actually a really beautiful thing. The fact that we are far from perfect and that we need rescued from ourselves.

And the reason I think it is beautiful is because I agree with Don that the problem with the world starts with me.

I could sit here and write all day about issues that are wrong in the world. People who are doing terrible things to other people. Lives which are being torn apart by war and hatred. Governments which are abusing other smaller and weaker countries for their own power. You don't need to go far to see just how messed up the world is.

I mean I am fine. I can get up in the morning and I am a Christian and I can go to church every week and read my Bible every day, or at least intend to. And those things I saw on the news last night are nothing to do with me. And I can write a blog which is ultimately not helping the world at all. And it's all fine because I am saved.

But therein lies the problem. Because when I start seeing the world like this then I am actually becoming the problem. My Christian life can become very selfish and all about me that I can forget that there is a world out there. Not that I am saying I am the solution because if I am, then God help us all.

But we can't make a difference unless we realise that we are all in need of rescuing. If nothing more than from ourselves.

So when it comes to telling people that they are sinners and they need rescued, it's actually the most freeing thing we can come to understand about ourselves. When we throw our egos out the window then we don't need to stop trying to feed them so much. We don't need to keep chasing after things that we think are going to make us happy.

I know that when I write here a part of me wants people to read it and think I am a great writer and very clever. I want my friends to see how amazing I am. I want them to compliment me. I want them to compare me to Rob Bell and I want them to tell my friends about me.

And I am a living example of how I am the problem. Because I can't love others when I am spending so much time trying to please myself. It doesn't work. And so I need to be rescued.

And I have been and I am so thankful to a God that has shown me that the world doesn't revolve around me. So this is why I think one of the greatest things we can learn about ourselves is that we are sinners. Not because God wants us to beat oursleves up. Or needs us to give him praise.

But because he knows that we are chasing something that will never really give us what we need, when we try and live for oursleves.

If we understand this then maybe we can understand oursleves better and understand what God is really like.

10 Sep 2009

Following Don

Wow. It's been over a month since I last wrote here and I really don't like that. So I am going to write more and to help me I am going to blog once a week on the book Blue Like Jazz by the amazing Don Miller.

Since we are starting to read this book in a sort of small group I have joined, I thought it would be a good way to keep track of my thoughts and just as important the thoughts of the other guys in the group. And if you haven't read it, get yourself a copy (you really need to own this book!! Seriously stop reading and get a copy......why are you still here?!!) and please feel free to join in the fun by commenting on my posts on each of the chapters.

I can't tell you how much this book changed my life and I know that may sound cheesy or cliched but its true and I am excited to read it again for the..well I have lost count, but its worth reading over and over.

So I am excited to get started and if you want to follow along you are more than welcome.

Until later then....

1 Aug 2009

Music to Your Ears

The one thing that has the power to affect most people more than anything else is music. Listening to and experiencing live. I don't really understand when some people say they don't like music. I have always presumed that everyone just did.

I love discovering new music and equally love going back to old music that I haven't listened to in a long time. New music inspires us to realise that creativity can be endless, that there is still hope. If we can constantly come up with new music then maybe we can always reach forward. Instead of getting stuck in life cycles where we feel we aren't getting anywhere, music reminds us that this does not have to be so and we can create and get better.

There is something magical about it. It can change our whole mood and outlook on life in just 3 and a half minutes.

On the other hand, going back to music that we haven't listened to in a while can remind us of better times. It can say to us hey remember when you were happy, or when you didn't struggle. Well you can be like that again. It doesn't have to be like this.

I honestly believe that music can have that sort of impact on us.

And there is no better way to experience that, than when you see live music. Sometimes live music can suck, but other times it can be a truly spiritual experience. Taking you out of your self and your problems and your struggles for two hours.

I've felt that with the Swell Season, Anathallo, the first time I saw the Manics,

the first time I saw Therapy? when I wasn't actually old enough to get into the Empire,

the first time I went to a hardcore show and realised that there was a whole type of intense music that I never knew existed,

the first time I crowdsurfed,

the first time I heard Rage Against the Machine,

the first time I saw Take That and felt the emotion of seeing a great band reform for the first time in years,

the time I saw Radiohead in a small theatre after thinking I had missed out on tickets,

the time I saw a band called Cave In my friend Peter went on about to me and didn't look back,

the time I waited for my friend Rohan to pick me up to get the Oasis album but he was late and they had sold out.

The first concert I went to and was just overtaken by what was going on. Jumping up and down for hours to good music. Just letting go and singing and sometimes being a bit violent.

All these moments and thousands more have been engrained in my memory. In those moments I felt like I could do anything, that no matter what I faced it didn't matter because I had music and I had friends to experience it with. I would always have music. It wouldn't let me down.

Right now this song is making me excited to be alive. What song or band is making you excited to be alive?



20 Jul 2009

The Last Temptation of Jesus

When the Bible is called the 'living word' it usually means several things. For example that even though it was written a long time ago it is still relevant today. But what I love more is that you can read something in the Bible, something you have read many times before and then suddenly a new insight jumps out at you. You get a new look at a bit of information that before was just part of the background.

I love when this happens and it happened to me this week. And it happened at a time when I really really needed a certain passage to take on some fresh meaning for me.

I'm talking about Matthew chapter 4, where Jesus is taken into a desert and tempted by Satan, trying to get him to give in to him. I haven't read this passage loads of times for myself but I felt like I knew it pretty well and that I understood all there was to understand. Boy was I wrong! And maybe the biggest lesson I learned was to read things for myself, not just assume that I know what they are going to say.

But in the words of the great Jimmy Cricket....there's more.

In my last post I talked about struggling with temptation. And one of the things I have really struggled with when I have been tempted by porn is to understand where Jesus was in it. I would pray and I would ask him to help and often he did, but somehow he felt distant and pretty much didn't understand what I was going through.

I mean I have heard on countless occassions that Jesus knows exactly what it feels like to be us. He knows what it feels like to go through our struggles. But I couldn't quite believe that. How can Jesus know what it is like to be tempted by porn?! He may well have been tempted sexually but it certainly isn't reported in the Bible.

But reading Matthew 4 again something hit me which has changed my whole look on Jesus. And the thing that hit me most was verses 8 and 9 (the message)

For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth's kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, "They're yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they're yours."

Jesus was tempted twice by Satan but then on the third time, he offers Jesus everything. He offers him power and prestige and control. He offers him the chance to control and rule the world.

There is a little problem though in that Satan can't offer him any of this. According to Satan if Jesus just bows to him he can have it all. But it isn't Satan's to give. Satan does not have any authority to give this to Jesus. It's a big stinking lie. Plain and simple.

I thought about when I struggle with temptation and lust and porn and I realised that this is exactly what Satan does with me. He offers me an escape. If I was just to take the time to look at that website or buy that magazine, then everything would be ok. The things I was looking for would be given to me. The hurt or void in my life that I think porn can fill will be filled....

When you struggle with porn or lust it is usually because there is something you are trying to fix. We use it to fix our past, our feelings of abandonment, our self image issues. We turn to porn to give us back control we feel we have lost somewhere. For me it may be issues to do with losing my father. A loss of a father figure. A loss of the type of love that a Father gives. For others it may be abuse they suffered or other parental junk from your past.

The main thing, no matter why you look at porn, you are looking to get back some sort of control. You were raped as a kid so you look at porn because it gives you a feeling of control again. Something that was taken from you. There are a hundred reasons why people turn to porn but I believe that regaining control is the underlying reason.

And it's at this point that I realised that Jesus does know what it feels like to be sexually tempted. Because Jesus was offered the chance to get control by Satan. Verse 1 tells us that Jesus had been fasting for forty days and nights and he was hungry. We don't know what Jesus dealt with during that time, but I bet he thought about what lay ahead for him. We know from Matthew 26 v 39 that Jesus was human because he asked for God to provide an alternative from him dying on the cross.

"My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?" (the message)


Jesus was scared. Jesus knew that this was not going to be nice. Wow Jesus was human. I read these two passages and suddenly I realised Jesus was just like us. I started to see Jesus as someone who understood everything I went through. This changes everything.

Back to the desert.

Jesus was hungry. He was vulnerable. He needed filled up. If you struggle with porn it's because you are hungry. You are vulnerable. You need filled up.

Wow. Are you getting that?!

And when Satan offers him a chance to get back a feeling of control, it must have been very tempting.

Jesus knows exactly what it's like to be tempted by porn. And he didn't cave. He stood firm. He knew that not giving in was what was really going to fill that hole. He knew that only God could really offer what he desired.

And if Jesus can do it then so can we. He is in me now and so that means his power is in me and you and anyone who loves him.

I have been tempted a few time recently and when I am I remember this. I remember that Jesus does understand what I am feeling and because he loves me he shows me how to get past the temptation. If nothing else just knowing Jesus understands is enough for me to resist. Knowing that Jesus does care. Because now I don't feel alone. I don't feel like I am the only one who goes through this.

And even if you are (but you're not)

Jesus knows.

Jesus understands.

Jesus does feel what it feels like.

Jesus survived the desert.

That means so can you.

13 Jul 2009

I like big Buts

I'm putting my lack of blog posts lately down to being pretty busy. In the last few weeks since I got home from London I have been at school, saying goodbyes, making some money, hanging out with friends, Summer Madness and now finally sitting down and just taking some time for myself.

It's much needed. It feels good and I think that everyone should take some time, every day just to be on their own. I'm finally now getting the chance. And what a lot of stuff it has thrown up!

This week the temptations and issues I thought were a thing of the past raised their ugly (and I mean hideously ugly) heads again, (I need to deal with why that happened for sure but for now I want to deal with how I react in the moment). When something bad in your life that you thought was done with and has lost its control over you comes back it can be scary and alarming and just frustrating. But this week I really got to understand first hand how God can use all things for his glory.

I was tempted to look at porn again this week and I honestly very nearly did. Something stopped me. Something in me that I certainly can't explain but whatever it was I am just glad it spoke up inside of me. However I wasn't honest about how I was struggling. I said I was fine and I wasn't and I lied to the one person I should be able to share these things with. It was close and I know that I hurt someone very close to me because of it.

And that is where my healing really came from.

Love is supposed to be a great motivator but honestly for me anyway, knowing I have hurt someone is much more challenging for me to change behaviour. When I stopped looking at porn it began by feeling terrible about what I had done. The feelings of shame or being found out made me reassess what I am doing. Simply put, causing someone else to hurt is what makes me more than anything else want to not look at porn. There is no greater motivation for me.

The trouble for me though is that I think I have confused these feelings for feelings of hatred and disgust at myself. No doubt sometimes those feelings are necessary to cause change in our behaviours but definately it is not what we should be living with. I have been shown this week by my best friend that feeling bad because we have hurt someone should not be seen as identical as hating ourselves all the time.

I don't want to ever forget how I made my girlfriend feel when she found out what I had nearly done but at the same time I need to live with that at a healthy distance. My girlfriend calls this 'owning our sin'.

In one of the books in the New Testament, Romans it talks about God's love and it says

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: (The Message).

Now if this is true and I believe it is, then how would me hating myself constantly, fit into God's love for me. Well..it just couldn't. It's impossible. Porn or masturbation (if that is a sin?...that deserves another post all of its own) or any other sin we do are not able to make God love us less. And me hating myself is certainly not in God's plan for me or you or anyone. So we can't go around beating ourselves up all the time. I can't beat myself up because of stuff in my past.

God's love is bigger than us or anything we think or do.

So this is where I find myself. I want to remember what I have done in the past. I want to remember the hurt and devestation it has caused, to myself but also others. I want to remember the way I felt when I have been pulled up about porn. I want to remember when I have been told that unless I stop things I shouldn't be doing a relationship can't continue. It's not nice. It certainly puts things in perspective.

But.... and this is a huge but (insert own joke here), I don't want them to affect how I feel about myself. I am loved. God loves me so much. God's love covers the worst thing I can think of. Or the worst thing I do. I want love to be the main motivator for me to stay pure. God's love and my girlfriend's love. My friends' love and my families love. I think the way we should live in this truth is that when we sin it should make us feel bad. I guess that's where repentace begins.

But maybe we need to always hold these feelings at a safe distance.

Love allows us to live with these things and not let them dictate our lives. So my challenge for myself and anyone who struggles with porn or lust or sin. Don't just assume your actions don't affect other people. They do. We need to remember that. But if we base them in God's love, a love that can never be destroyed, they can inspire us to be fair to ourselves and the people close to us by living without sin, without giving ourselves a mental beating.

If that doesn't help remember this ....

the only buts we should be looking at are the ones that God shows us, when we think we can't let go of our sin..

29 Jun 2009

The End is the Beginning is the End

It seems my life has been full of a lot of 'How It Ends' recently and I guess that's just what this time of year throws up. A lot of goodbyes, finishing of degrees, courses, internships etc. It can be so exciting and exhausting all in one.

This week I graduated from BBC along with a lot of friends and it was good to finally put an end to this chapter of my life. Unfortunately along with that comes the inevitable goodbyes and the farewell of friends from abroad, some of who we're not sure when we will meet again, if at all.

To be honest, I'm not that big of a farwell person. I'll miss people but I know that the ones I am close to, I will see again. I know it will happen. I think that's the problem sometimes. We just never know how. We don't know when we will find the time or the money.

But if we want it to happen I am pretty sure all of us will make it happen. I have a had a few of these phases in my life. End of school, end of Uni, end of living with people for four years, end of amazing summers, end of relationships. The list could go on and you could thousands of others to that. Everyone has these experiences. The feeling that something special is lost and we will never get it back. People we say we will always stay in touch with but we don't, even if they are our facebook friends.

But yet life seems to keep offering up more experiences that we don't want to end, so I know that this is not the end, but just a change. I will feel exactly like this again, just next time about something else.

I don't know if that sounds cold, like I don't care. But I feel like life is always going to be like this and to be honest I hope it does. I want to experience lots of things and I want to change because change is good. Change is essential for the world to keep evolving. If we don't change stagnation occurs. This is true from theology all the way to changing your underwear.

So this week I want to remember my time at BBC and remember my friends there but I also want to look forward to the summer and what is going to happen after.

They say that school is the best time of your life. Maybe that was true for you, maybe not. Whatever part of your life you would put in there, what about the next part. Do you really want your school days to be the best days of your life? Do I want my BBC time to be the best days of my life? Do you want that job you just moved on from to be the best days of your life? That trip, that journey, that internship, that summer?

I know I don't.

20 Jun 2009

Invisible Children- How It Ends

Six weeks ago I started this internship in London with Invisible Children and now almost six weeks later I am nearly done.

I have had some ups and some downs. There have been times when I have been so excited to be here and other times when I just wanted to go home. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for sure.

Today I had my penultimate activity as an IC intern. Having a screening at an community arts festival. It was pretty awesome. Reflecting on it I think that is what I have missed. I have missed the connecting with people about IC and seeing them get excited and inspired.

A lot of what I have been doing has been emailing and calling and it gets boring sometimes. But strangely I wouldn't change it. It has given me a really amazing insight into how a charity like IC works.

The thing about IC is that everything about it looks awesome. The website is awesome, the graphics are engaging. The movies are life changing. But it is hard work. I have seen Simon, Ami, Davy and Molly work their butts off.

For all the stuff that people see on the surface of IC there are layers and layers of hard work that goes into it. That has been eye opening for me. It has been a privilege to be part of. And now it ends.

At least for a while. At least until I get home and relax for a week and regroup mentally. I am looking forward to that. I am looking forward to just being with Brittany. No exams, no work, no responsibilities. If at least for a week.

So the title of this post was intended to portray two meanings. Obviously how my time in London is almost coming to a close. But also the events that are going on in Washington and London this weekend. 'How it ends' is going to be the part of something incredible. I think that everyone who works for IC are working towards an event that if successful could mean they wouldn't have a job. And I think they wouldn't mind.

Because if this weekend works, Joseph Kony will be arrested. It may take time but if that happens then what does that mean for IC. I'm sure that it will still exist. There will still be so much work to do.

But the reason that IC began in the beginning could realistically be finished. If Joseph Kony is captured and the kids get to go home then IC would move into a new phase and a new purpose.

I love that. I love that these people are dedicating their lives (some of them every single minute breathing IC) to something that could be over. So if you are in Washington this weekend or in London on Sunday or Monday please head along to these events. They will be awesome. They will look cool but more importantly they will help change lives if you go.

For me and my IC time that is all. There will be more I am sure. But for now that is it. It has been incredible. But all good things must come to an end. And more importantly some bad things too.

5 Jun 2009

Glass half Empty

This weekend Brittany is coming over to visit and I really don't think it could have come at a better time. I love working with Invisible Children but the trouble with working with an organisation like this is that it is very easy to forget why I am doing this.

I have been trying to book summer schools and camps for IC to be a part of or do a screening. Doing that and reciting the same spiel about who IC is can be very jading. I keep talking about child soldiers but at the same time forget about the child soldiers. If that makes sense. I know that there are child soldiers who need saved but I have lost certian emotions that their injustice evoked in me in the first place.

At the start I loved it mainly because I was looking at places in Northern Ireland and people I know who would be interested. It was cool because I felt like I was doing a really significant bit to get IC known throughout Northern Ireland.

Since then though I have shifted to working at looking for contacts for the London area. And that's cool but I think after 4 weeks of this I am starting to get tired. I need time to relax and forget about IC for a few days. I guess that's the danger when you partake in something you are passionate about. You can let it become your life rather than a part of your life.

I don't think what I am feeling is that unusual. It's to be expected. If your are living and breathing one thing for a constant time you get sick of it. Or at least I do. Don't want to generalise.

So I am looking forward to spending some time with Brittany because I know I will feel more sane after some time with her. I know by putting IC on the side for a couple of days I will be able to regroup and try and get that enthusiasm I had four weeks ago back again.

But I know that IC is important and I know that when I reflect on this time I will be proud and honoured that I got an opportunity to work with such an awesome organisation.

It's not perfect by any means. It's still growing, learning and ironing out a lot of creases but it's cool to be a part of. Just now I need to not think about it.

I know that all this is a far cry from my earlier posts since arriving in London but that's the beauty of blogging.

29 May 2009

Glass half Full

Three weeks in and I have hit the half way mark of my internship with Invisible Children. It doesn't feel like three weeks. Sometimes it feels like more, sometimes it feels like less. But I am really enjoying being here.

In some ways I don't want to go home. I haven't really missed home although I have missed certain people (you know who you are, perhaps some don't). One thing is I am starting to start and think what I want to do. Maybe for the first time since school, A uni degree and a two year Bible college course in fact.

I have put it off. For a long time I have felt like I am just putting off the inevitable and sooner or later I will need to decide what I will do for a proper job.

But I think now I am at peace with where I am. Sometimes I have felt like other people my age already have a career and are making money and are sorted.

Now though, I am happy that I am not there. I mean I have learned so much the last few years and there are experiences that I would not have gotten to experience if I had 'settled' down. This internship for one.

So I guess I am just getting comfortable that this is my life and just because it doesn't seem to be the same as a lot of people I went to school or uni, that's OK. I do not want to follow a path that s I am 'supposed' to follow. That's not to diss people who have a career or are even starting families. Those are amazing things and you guys have experienced amazing things that I haven't.

Yet.

I am just happy that I am not comparing myself anymore with anyone else. This is my life and I am happy with it. I am doing something I want to be doing. Of course sometimes we need to change something about our lives.

But if you think you are missing out on something because other people are experiencing it, be happy where you are. Most likely they are want something you have. You don't have to do it all now. This minute. It will come. Whatever your 'it' is

27 May 2009

Anathallo

Sometimes when you go to shows the music makes you want to cry.

Not because it is really sad or really happy but simply because it is so *&"(*"$ awesome it just hits you somewhere deep inside and makes you excited and glad to be a person.

Last night I saw Anathallo in London and at various points I felt like crying.

That's all that needs to be said....

22 May 2009

God and Invisible Children

Almost two weeks into my internship with Invisible Children and it's hard to believe that I am a third of the way through. To be honest I wish it would go on longer. That I could stay for the whole summer. But alas Shop 4 U is barely surviving without me as it is.

This second week has been good. I have been trying to think of more contacts to get in touch with and more ideas of what I can do here.

The thing I love about working for Invisible Children is that I have my own project but I am given the complete freedom to think outside the box and to use my imagination to spread the word about what is going on in Northern Uganda. They recognise that we have gifts and talents and minds and we should use them for good. That's really encouraging and it has made me think about what I want to do with my life. Or maybe I should say how I want my life to look.

I am starting slowly to realise that I am a person who has been blessed with so much and a mind and was born with a God given creative ability. We all have. I'm also starting to see that God doesn't want me to be afraid and doesn't want me to be unfulfilled with life. This is a pretty big break through for me because I have generally had a negative view of God. And by that I mean that he is disappointed with me, or doesn't want me to be fully alive or hasn't given me the ability to be someone.

But he has. And I want to remember that. Not to go through every day being scared. Not to hide but to allow God to inspire me. He created me and he did that so I could experience life. He gave me life. Why? Because he wanted me to be a part of life.

And that brings me back to Invisible Children. I want to be part of something like this because they are about ordinary people using their voices. Whatever we have or whereever we came from isn't important. If everyone put their voice together then we can actually change the world. It's happened and it's happening.

Sorry inspirational excitement moment over for now.

In other news, my goal of seeing a celebrity before I come home is still sadly unfulfilled. Davy just saw Sebastian Coe. The closest I have come is a lookalike of the Scottish guy off Dragon's Den. But I will not give up. I will just need to buy a copy of Heat and see the hotspots.

Tonight I am hanging with my best friend from Uni who I haven't seen in 4 years. Crazy! Will be awesome though.

18 May 2009

Invisible Children Week 2, Day 1 -The Screening

I can't believe it is already a week since I started. From feeling really nervous and being over an hour early because I wanted to make sure I knew where to go, to feeling like I had been in this place for a long time.

Today was a pretty cool day as I got to experience my first Invisible Screening as someone who works for Invisible Children. We were in Sydenham High School in London,an all girl school.

Molly, Ashlee (I'm used to be outnumbered by women but this was ridiculous) and I went along representing IC and it went really well. The girls were all really into it and asked some really good questions at the end. We showed the 'Who we are' video and also 'the RESCUE'

I had seen the RESCUE before but this was the first time I saw it on a big screen. It was amazing. Felt like watching it for the first time and I appreciated watching it because it reminded me why I am doing this. It felt like the first time and I got chills when it started.

It's so easy to sit in the office and work away and getting contacts that you become detached from it. Molly mentioned this when she told us how this was her 90th time watching it and she has kind shuts off when the film is showing. She doesn't like this and I can see why. We forget that this is real and that these things are actually happening.

It really struck me in the film when it gets to the part about the massacre of the villages last Christmas.

That's Christmas 2008.

I remember exactly what I did that day. Where I was. Who I was with.

I was with my family, having fun. Not a care in the world.

Though somewhere in the world, people were being killed, people were having their bodies mutilated. People having their lives ripped apart. And at the exact moments those things were happening I was with my family. Having a wonderful time.

Now that's not to make myself feel guilty or make anyone else feel guilty. We are meant to enjoy this world and life was made to be good. But it is very very sobering all the same.

I write this so I can look back and remember that we can never forget what is going on in the world. We can't allow oursleves to get so withdrawn into our own worlds and what is going on with 'me' that we forget what is happening to 'them'.

I remembered a little today why I am happy to be here doing this.

So that was today. Then it was off home and going to hear my sister sing at her showcase for her course.

I was pretty excited because I have heard her talk about her showcases and how much she enjoys them and it was pretty awesome that I was going to be there for her Jazz performance.

Right now it is after 11 and I think that tiredness is finally starting to catch up with me. I think from tomorrow I might get a couple of early nights.

Over and out

16 May 2009

Invisible Children Week 1

So I had hoped to write a bit more often than once a week and this next week that will be my aim but this first week I have just been getting settled into the office, finding out what I will be doing and doing it and meeting new people and so that has meant I have neglected a few things. Time for myself, time for people who are important to me and time to write.

So I want to change that. But first I want to update anyone who reads this on what my first week at Invisible Children has looked like

So I arrived on Monday and met Davy, Simon and Ami. I was pretty nervous but right from the off I was made to feel welcome and realised quickly that I was going to enjoy it. The office is right at the top of a flight of stairs and has a nice feel to it. Davy told me that its pretty relaxed and I soon realised this. Davy is my boss but he is chill, he works hard, he knows his stuff but he isn't scary.

Effectively I am working with Simon the tour manage and he has given me the project of getting contacts for the Autumn tour to Ireland. I like this. It makes me feel that I am bringing something important to the development of Invisible Children that is unique to me.

So my first day pretty much involved me getting settled, helping sort out the merchandise and moving a few desks around. It was more manual work but it felt good becasue like I said it felt like I was helping to establish Invisible Children in Europe. Just my wee bit but I was doing it.

The next day I came in and got myself my desk and started on my project. I like that we have projects and side projects. So I set about the task of thinking of schools, festivals, clubs, camps, bands, teachers anyone I know who may be interested in having a screening. Already I have had some exciting responses. One in particular which I am really excited about but which I won't divulge any more until it is more concrete. Sorry

So it was good. It was fun. It was chilled. It's an amazing working environment.

I even revolutionised the office music system by introducing Spotify to the office. (My biggest achievement so far may be persuading Davy, Simon and Ami to download it on their computer)

Wednesday came with more of the same. Finally though I was beginning to really feel at home and not be scared and get up and leave the office for 5 minutes if I need something. I also met Ashlee who flew in from Austria (though I still doubt that since she didn't recognise the Austrian flag) and will be working with me to make contacts only for England, Scotland and Wales.

Thursday and I met the Scotland and Irish Roadies who returned the previous night. It was good to me Nick who I had spoken on the phone with and been in touch when trying to organise the previous tour, Charley who I had met at the RESCUE in Dublin and Molly who I had never met before.

So that's my week so far. Next week I will be writing more regularly because I don't want to forget anything and I want to be able to look back and just remember this experience as clearly as I can.

But so far I am excited. There are a lot of cool things in the pipeline for Invisible Children and I just want people to know about it. It's easy to lose sight on why I am involved, why I am thankful that Brittany's excitement and desire to change the world has brought me here.

I am here because I want to help end a war. That may sound pretentious to some.

I simply don't care.

I want to help. Screw that. It is my duty to help.

Just writing this gets me fired up and maybe it is the fact that I have grown up in a country which has been at war. How in some ways the way children are being brainwashed to hate isn't to far from what happens to kids in Northern Ireland. They may not lose their lives and their familied but they lose their perspective on people who are different than them.

And more often than not, it's not their fault.

OK I think that's enough for now.

I may blog tomorrow on some of my other thoughts on just being in London.

And I promise that more regular updates are to come

9 May 2009

in London

Yesterday I moved to London...well for 6 weeks at least but I think it sounds better if I say I live here now....if only for 6 weeks.

I'm staying with my wee sis in Acton, London while I do my placement with Invisible Children. I'm pretty excited but I'm the kind of person that usually doesn't get really excited about something until I am actually into it and going. But it is pretty cool to be here.

Today we headed into the city centre, walked aroung Leicester Square, bought a birthday present, had lunch and headed up Carnaby street for a dander. I've been to London a fair few times before so everything doesn't have quite the 'awe' factor that London usually provokes.

So my sis went home to do some work and I hung about, got a coffee (a caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks to be exact) and had a sit in Golden square, watching the world go by.

It was nice and sunny and I was a bit annoyed I hadn't brought a book. Next time.
So that's that really. Pretty uneventful so far and I think it hasn't completely sunk in that this will be my home for the next 6 weeks.

Still I am just eager to get started with my placement. I don't know exactly what it will hold but I know it will be good. Until Monday then...

1 May 2009

We've ALL been RESCUED!!!

Last week I wrote a bit about the RESCUE that was happening in 100 cities. Well I went and we were rescued. It was awesome. We started a revolution to save abducted children. It was good. That was 6 days ago

And 6 days later every city was rescued. Well almost!

Chicago waited and they waited and they moved, and then waited some more, then moved again, then waited, then moved once more and waited. For 6 days hundreds of people waited to be rescued. Reinforcements came. Thousands of emails to Oprah Winfrey pleading to be rescued, as many if not more tweets to get her to come out.

It took 6 days but finally the peoples voice was heard and today on her Friday LIVE broadcast she will rescue Chicago. Amazing. We thought she didn't hear but she did. In fact there were times when many thought she was ignoring us. It seemed that way. But you know what?

Her timing could not have been more perfect.

The one day that the show goes LIVE and she decides to answer. She could have answered 6 days ago but her voice will be clearer now than it would have been then. In other words the best possible scenario is what is going on now! If she had answered on Saturday then all the media wouldnt have been out to see what the heck all these people were doing hanging around Chicago for nearly a week.

What's happening to the Child Soldiers will be heard by thousands of more people than if it happened earlier. All it required was a little bit of patience. A bit of hope. A belief that something was around the corner.

And for all the people waiting their hope was rewarded. Their belief was shown to be true. That's awesome to me. Sometimes we need to have hope. We want something to happen now. But we don't realise that it might not be the best if it happens now. If it happens now, we might miss out on something that is going to happen then. What if we just stick it out. What if we stopped now just because we don't see results now? That would be a tragedy

I'm glad the kids in Chicago didn't stop. I'm glad they kept going. They are inspiring to me. I want to be like them. I want to not give up even if all the evidence says I should. But the evidence isn't all their is. It may be all we see sometimes, but it is definatley not all there is.

That's a good enough reason to keep going.

Well done Chicago!
Well done Oprah!

24 Apr 2009

Want To End a War?

A long time ago I wrote about some excting things that were coming up. Some of those didn't come to fruition but tomorrow the thing that I was probably most excited about is happening.

For years now there has been a war in Uganda where Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (nothing to with God!) has been kidnapping young children to fight for him. Kids who are just like you and me (well a few years ago now!). Kids who like to laugh and play and mess around with their friends just like kids anywhere. But they aren't getting the chance to be children because someone is taking it away from them.

Thankfully 3 film students from California decided that they could do something to help these kids. Thankfully through them over 50'000 young people throughout the world are also going to do something to help.

So this Saturday the 25th April, no matter where you are, get yourself along to the RESCUE

March with hundreds of other people in a united stance for the child soldiers and show the people doing their shopping that there is something wrong going on in the world right now. The great thing is WE CAN do something. We have a voice and we use it so much but we don't use it for other people enough. Tomorrow you can have a real chance to make a difference.

So for anyone reading this and if you are in Ireland tomorrow, get yourself to Dublin tomorrow. Just go. Don't question whether you can afford the time off, or whether you have a paper due in or whether you miss the next episode of American Idol, or whether you need to see the new Wolverine movie.

The abducted child soldiers don't get to way up those thoughts when they leave their homes.

Get down to St Patrick's cathedral at 3 pm and join up with others to walk through the city and show people what is going on in Uganda. This is going to be the most amazing thing you will be involved with.

Once chance to really change another human beings life

Don't miss it.

1 Apr 2009

Cause and Effect Part 1

I believe that everyone needs something to get their teeth into. I think there is more to our being alive than just the normal everyday stuff we go through. I think we all need something that inspires us to get up and help others. Something that we are specifically meant to be working at.

For me there have been several over the years. Ministries that I have been involved with, supported, been excited by. One of those is xxxchurch. This is the type of thing I want to be involved in. This is what I want to do. I want to help people by sharing my story and encouraging and not being afraid to go where others are. I want to go first.

I was talking to my Principal at Bible College last week about this ministry and about myself, about what I see my picture in the world looking like and I was really encouraged by his words. I am passionate about porn and I want the church in Ireland to start talking about it. He told me that I should pursue this. That he would encourage me with this. And coming from a guy who I look up to I can't tell you how much it meant to me to hear that.

I have struggled with it pretty badly in the past. I struggle with it still daily. But sometimes I feel I am the only one that struggles with these types of things.

Two options.

One. That is true.
Two. I am not the only one, it's just we don't want to talk about it. And who could blame us. It took me a long time to tell someone.

I think the second option is true.

I have been encouraged by others I have spoken to who also see porn as a problem in the Church and want to help.

I wrote in a post previously about how sometimes we struggle with the very things that we are called to. So for me I see my struggle with porn as a sure fire sign that I am called to help people who struggle with porn.

So this is where I am right now. This is what I am thinking.

I think we all have heard stories or met people and something in us just can't accept what is going on and wants to start moving. For me that is helping people who struggle with porn. For you it might be something else.

Check out Jordy's story. The video was shot 4 years ago when he struggled with porn daily and now he is working for xxxchurch.

That's awesome.

Simply he heard about a cause, was excited, was convicted and changed his life. Now the effect is clear to see.

Again.

Awesome.




22 Mar 2009

Aren't we all the same?!

For pretty much my whole life I have been learning from Sunday School and in Church and any where else where there are Christians that I am in need of being saved from my sins. Verses are quoted at me about how none of us are Ok and all of us need salvation.

So far so good.

The problem is that somewhere along the line I started to believe that some sins are worse than others. Where did I get this from? I know that we all need saved but somehow this has turned into "we all need saved (but really some of us need saved more)" And I think this is damgaing.

I have been pretty open on here about struggles I have with porn and with temptation but other than 3 or 4 people who I have been close to, I haven't really been open to many people about it.

Why is that?

Surely if we all need saved then that means no sin is worse than another. If some sins are worse then there would need to be different levels of salvation. But thank God we don't. And thank God there aren't.

But still some sins are seen as disgusting and dark and murky and should never be talked about. We think that our junk is bigger and smellier than the person sat next to us on Sunday morning. Or we think that if people really knew what we were like or what we got up to in out room last night, then they wouldn't be able to look us in the eye. But this is crap. Because like I have said we all need saved.

If only we really believed this. Sure, ask any Christian and they will agree with this statement. But do they really? Do I really? Because of this strange complex we have about not looking bad to others we don't mention our sins. And if we do, then it is that we aren't praying enough or we were kind of rude to someone or if you are a really hardcore sinner you dropped the 'f' bomb.

We are so taken in by the lie that now we are saved we need people to see us as perfect. Yeah we all need saved but where does it say anywhere that we need to have everything completely sorted. The Bible does say that we should be accountable to each other and pray for each other but how can we do that if we aren't completely honest.

Because people find it hard enough to admit small things to others, it leaves the bigger things (or should I say 'bigger' as how other people see them, but remember not 'bigger' as God sees them) then we don't mention the tough things we go through, or the struggles that are really grinding us down every day. Instead we keep them to ourselves and pretend that we are doing OK.

The point of this post is really that you and I will stop acting like your sin is bigger. If you are struggling with being nice to someone who you find annoying then this is just as big a sin as looking at naked women. If you are jealous of someone who is getting something you have always wanted yourself, this is just as big a sin as lusting after a girl/boy.

Jesus said that if we even imagine sleeping with someone elses wife this is just like actually doing it. There is no difference whatsoever. Thinking is as bad as doing? How does that work?
Because sin is sin. It's all the same.

So my challenge to myself is to stop stressing over looking good to others and be real and to be courageous and step up and not be afraid to talk about the darkest stuff. Because this will allow someone else to step up too, who has also been afraid.

If you are struggling with something that you have built up in your head as being this 'unforgivable sin' then please stop because it isn't.

I remember hearing or reading somewhere that we look at sin like we are at the base of some mountains. Some of them look bigger to us than others. We differentiate between them. But God looks at them from above, from far away. He can't tell what is big and what is small. He has a different view of them than us. To him they look all the same.

Let's start looking at sin like God does.

18 Mar 2009

Falling On Deaf Ears

So yesterday morning I woke to the joyful sound of ringing. Not a nice ringing. Not even a phone ringing (which would be awesome as I have Jamie Lidell as my ringtone) but the annoying ringing you get after a concert. Its called Titanus apparantely. I don't really care what its called, its annoying. But unfortunately I can't even look at it with fondness like I would if it was caused my an amazing concert. That was last week.

No this was caused simply by a blocked ear. Now I don't know about you but when I get this it changes the person I am. I am easily irritated and I am probably a bit more prone to losing my temper. I'm not really like that but when something like this happens to me I act like a spoiled kid.

And this got me thinking.
I can look at this as being the worst thing to ever happen to me like I did.

It wasn't.

Or I can look at it as something that is mildy inconvienient and that can be easily treated.

It is.

When I look at it like that then it changes my outlook. In fact after 24 hours of not being able to hear out of my left ear I am actually pretty used to it now.

And it may be a bit of a cliche but I am starting to appreciate my hearing. On my way home from Belfast yesterday I listened to music and for a brief few seconds my ear completely cleared up. Can I tell you that the music has never sounded so good. I have been listening to Sleeping at Last pretty much non stop the past week but it sounded so so better for a few short seconds.

I was reading a blog post on Shellie R Warrens facebook blog in which she was taken ill with the flu last week and how this as she saw it was God's way of "making her lay down." Psalm 23v2 ESV. God started to heal her about something specific going one in her life at that time. God had something to do with her illness. Reading about how she saw this period and how it was one way that God gets our attention by knocking us for six inspired me.

Sometimes we go through things that don't just cause us to stop and take stock but 'make us lie down'. So I started seeing my ear problem like this. I started to wonder what was the purpose of this and I believe it was to talk to me about sin. To see what is necessary and what is not. To see my sin and to see what I need to cut out. I like this. I am enjoying this. I think I am becoming more patient. I feel I'm thinking clearer about a certain issue in my life right now. My ear is blocked and even though I can do something about it, it won't heal straight away. I have no other choice but to wait and grin and bear it.

Maybe when we are sick or disappointed we should use it as a time to force us to stop and take time to hear (easier for some than others). There is nothing to do but be helpless and look to God and that is something I don't do nearly as much as I should. And remember that after God imposes on us something that stops us in our tracks to remember that there are good things about that time.

"He leads me beside still waters" -He gives us time to take stock and be peaceful. To stop thinking about the next project, the next meeting, the next problem. He gives us perspective.

"He restores my soul"- He take something that has been bothering you, something that has been tempting you or eating at you some disappointment and says it's OK. It's not who you are. It doesn't have to ruin or define you. It just gives you a new way of looking.

"You anoint my head with oil" - He gives you drops to put in your head to heal you, he brings you back to health after making you look to him with a new outlook.

The hard stuff is a "path to righteousness" that brings us to a new place. A better place where we are different people, more a real person than we were before. So if you are suffering right now remember there is a reason. There is a purpose. It's not needless. It's crucial. And with God we can be sure it will be good

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

21 Feb 2009

Invisible Children

My girlfriend Brittany has been passionate about Invisible Children for a while now and her love of this organisation is rubbing off on me now. If you don't know who they are, they are a charity who are working at freeing the thousands of child soldiers held by Joseph Kony and the LRA in Northern Uganda. In a nutshell.

When a war has been going on for as long as the one in Uganda it is easy to forget the people there or keep uptodate and it seems it fades into the background. When was the last time you heard about the war on the news. I think the same has happened here for a long time. But the truth is this is going on now in our world. There are children who are having their lives taken from them and it is our responsibility to help. Not to think that is awful, but to do something. It's pretty simple. This is the world that we have been given to look after and that means that part of what we as human being are required to do is to look after it and the people in it. This isn't about being a Christian. It's about something deeper. About being human.

I am really excited that Invisible CHildren are coming to Europe and I am even more excited that they are coming over to Northern Ireland. We will be holding a number of events and screenings of their new documentary during April including one at Queens and Belfast Bible College.

If you are reading this and want to get your church involved or your friends or your cat and dog then leave me a post.

Even better sign up now and get pumped and informed for the big event happening in Belfast on the 25th April. It is going to be pretty huge and it is going to be a chance to make a difference to someones life. Not to be missed. More soon

23 Jan 2009

Inspiration

I was asked to write another blog by someone but I am feeling distinctly lacking in inspiration for anything to write. Life has been busy lately and I guess I could write about some of that. But most of what I want to write about I want to wait until it all goes down. But there are some pretty exciting things coming up. I'll keep you posted.

But anyway I have been back at college for Dessies two week course on Jewish culture and it has been amazing. I love bringing Christianity back to its Jewish roots and realising we have got so much of our preaching and out interpreting of the Bible wrong. It's inspiring to start reading the Bible.

So on that note I want to share two blogs/websites that have been inspiring my thinking and my life recently.

First up

Stuff Christians Like

This guy is so talented. He has this nack of putting everything that I have been thinking about Christianity and church into words. This is a hilarious site but its more. He isn't just taking the piss, he is trying to get us to see the ridiculousness in how we act as Christians sometimes. Please check this out. It will make you laugh and it will make you stop and think. Two things which it is very hard to get you to do at the same time. On a side note check out his other blogs 97 seconds and prodigal john.

xxxchurch

There isn't much more that I need to say. This site and this ministry has been an amazing help to me. They are stepping up and doing something that nobody else is willing to do. They are changing peoples lives and going places that other ministries wouldn't be seen dead at. Recently the blog by Shellie R Warren on the site has been the main reason I visit it. She doesn't just deal with sexuality with care and grace but she more than anything else I have read is moving me to stay away from that crap. Please read her blog. Even if you don't struggle with porn (though I think most guys do at some point) her words and the way she thinks will make you think.

Very short post but at the moment these two places are inspiring me to move forward and to do something. To realise my dreams and start realising myself. Realising myself by bringing who I am meant to be and what I know I can be to life.

I hope they bless you as much as they have me.

Peace out

10 Jan 2009

moving to(o) fast

Recently I decided to go on a fast. 7 days without food, just fruit juices and water. I have never done this type of thing before (except for a very on/off successful sweet fast) so I was pretty excited and really up for it. It was going to be amazing, getting closer to God, challenging myself to something and learning about myself.

I managed 2 days!

If I am being completely true my motives weren't so pure. I didn't want to do it to look impressive but I did think it would be a quick way of losing a few much needed pounds before the football season resumed. The whole spiritual aspect was a bit of a side issue. Which I know now is not the way that a fast, especially the type I was looking for, should be done.

So I decided to read up a bit and start again sometime, ease into it instead of rushing into something I didn't fully understand. So I will.

That's not to say that it was a waste of time or a complete failure.

I started to pray. That may sound like a strange comment from a Bible College student but I don't pray that often. But when I didn't have any food for two days I just started praying. The best thing was it just seemed natural. It was supernatural. It wasn't forced. I turned to God instead of food. And I liked it a lot.

I also was less agitated. I was working for both the days I did it and I was really relaxed with annoying customers. I was in the queue paying for petrol and someone pushed in in front of me. It didn't bother me. Someone took my place and I didn't care. It didn't matter to me. It was a great feeling to be honest. Instead of getting all worked up and letting it consume me it just washed over me. I felt really healthy. Physically and mentally.

Even in such a short time my outlook on food has started to change. I like eating. Who doesn't but I started to realise that it is possible to survive without it. It was strange coming to meal times and not eating but it was possible. And after not eating when I did eat again it was good. In fact it was better than I could have imagined. Food that I have had a million times before tasted different and better. It made me think of Heaven when everything good will be heightened. Maybe it was a small fortaste into eternal life.

I appreciate food a bit more. I appreciate and am thanful that food is available to me whenever I like. I'm pretty lucky. There is a 24 hour garage a 5 minutes drive away that I can get whatever I like, whenever I like. Everytime I have eaten since, I remember this and meals have been so much more enjoyable because of it.

These are all great new ways of thinking to come out of this experience. But I want to change my behaviour. I want to not just remember people who don't have food or homes or anything else which I can readily get access to, but help them. I read somewhere that if after doing a fast it doesn't change your behaviour then it is a waste of time.

I really recommend fasting to anyone. In fact if you believe what Jesus says is true, maybe its not a command but definately an expectation. I only managed two days but in those two days I learnt a lot more about myself than in a long time. I saw my sin highlighted and I saw my outlook on things changed. It inspired me to do longer and it inspired me to do something.

I hope you take up the challenge. You won't be disappointed.

Though if I would say one thing, maybe start with short fasts and maybe someday, we can do what these guys did.

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