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 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.


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