crazy…

Felt like a quick change of blog layout. not sure of the pink actually but fancied something completely different. Whilst doing this, it occured to me that this journey I am on is so crazy :) Sometimes I wonder if it is all a massive dream (remember Dallas and Bobbys death?!) and I’m going to wake up and go back to bumbling along in my life, thinking that I am in control of it all…. If someone had said to me a few months ago: you will be watching this guy heal people, you will be writing a blog post about the fact that you believe God can heal in this day and age, that you actually want to be seeking God 24/7 (quite literally sometimes) or enjoy reading the bible…and get it…. :) well I think I would have laughed. a lot. and then ignored them…
Thing is, having been at this for a few months now I can look back and see my life changing in so many ways. From the oh so subtle, to the downright smack you in the face obvious. and all for the better. Sometimes I catch myself in a situation that now comes so naturally, that would have been so alien a few months back and when I do, catch myself, I recognise how far I’ve come in such a short space of time and it is just wonderful. Life is good. Totally crazy. totally out of my control. all the balls are in the air and I have no idea where I will be next week let alone a year. but it is great. I am so happy. so trusting. so fulfilled. God is good. really good.
more please. Bring it on…

Healing. Miraculous?

This weekend Mark Marx, founder of the ‘Healing on The Streets’ initiative came to our town. He did a service last night and spoke at church this morning. All I knew of him before was related to the ‘supernatural leg-lengthening’ that he regularly does on people who apparently have one leg shorter than the other. If you haven’t seen this try this clip:

Now I was totally skeptical about this. Totally. On so many levels. I struggled to believe that God could/would act supertnaturally like this. I thought this guy was probably a fraud. I thought that doing the same act on lots of people was a publicity stunt. I was sent this clip by someone a while back and pretty much dismissed it. So when I heard he was coming to our church I thought, right I need to see this.

My doubts I guess were 2 fold – is this guy for real? and can God heal like this in this day and age? (probably links back to my post about what prayer does). I guess in principal I had no problem believing that things like this can happen, through Gods power. but I think I needed to see something with my own eyes to get it completely. (will I ever get past being like Doubting Thomas…?)

So firstly I now know, yes, this guy is totally for real. His talks at both services were completely inspirational. Even if you take out of the equation the numerous examples of healing that he has seen, The ‘Healing on the Streets’ initiaitive, started just 3 years ago, is now in hundreds of town across the UK and Europe, and in many cases having seen some truly amazing results. Marx travels every weekend to towns and churches where they are running this initiative to preach and offer encouragement and training. I don’t believe that would be happening if he was a fraud. After all, it isnt really about him, he visits places running the scheme yes, but he is not at every session by any means and individuals have to then run this in their own towns without his back up. So although I have yet to see anything completely awesome with my own eyes, I believe in the power of healing through God.
Just as a quick example, he mentioned: a guy born with no irises, and therefore no vision, who after prayer had normal eyes and vision; a man with plates in his arm after an injury who suffered with constant pain and limited movement, healed completetely; numerous cancers totally healed and medically verified, including several where surgeons opened up the patient to operate to find the cancer gone, and being totally stunned… the list goes on…
On Saturday night he did do the leg lengthening thing. When he first said, ‘does anyone have one leg shorter than the other?’ I thought ‘oh no, why is he doing this? we don’t need to see this gimmick, there are loads of sick people here (and there were) why can’t you do something with one of them?’ Anyway to my amazement one of my friends said, yes they did have one leg shorter than the other by about an inch & a half. So instantly my first doubt that people were set up went out the window as this guy is totally on fire for God and would not have agreed to be party to any nonsense. Then my next doubt – ok well he must pull the leg or line them up, or whatever, was blown out of the water as I stood about 2 foot from what was going on and everyone was crowded round so there was no faking!
After some guidance we all prayed for people with a range of conditions, with limited but some success. Similar this morning at the service. One guy during the afternoon session yesterday on the streets, had walked with a zimmer frame for 30 years after falling down some stairs on a double decker bus. He could not walk without the frame and had been in constant pain for 30 years. After prayer he said the pain had gone and was able to walk down the street on the arm of one of the team, with his carers on tenterhooks thinking he would fall!
Now I recognise that this post is bound to bring up a number of comments and plenty will be negative (Hi Ron… ;) ) and I don’t blame you – I would have said the same a few weeks back – but for me, the thing that I have come away from this with, is the belief that God can and will heal. And why not? He is God… And indeed in the bible it says that we shall do greater things that Jesus. So if Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, then why can’t we in his name?:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12
I’m not being naiive about this, I actually find it easier to believe that God can do this stuff, than not. No, I don’t understand why sometimes people are healed and sometimes not. Or why one man should seemingly have more of the ability to heal in Jesus name than any others. Or (still) why he uses the same example which seemingly works every time. Is this a God given example? (In fact if it wasn’t for the leg thing I would probably have total 100% belief in this guy, it’s just the repeating of it which makes it seem like a scam!).
Just for good measure here’s another clip of Healing on the Streets in Reading.(first bit is a bit of background, prob best to start at 2 mins in)

as always I eagerly await your comments…
red
x

old church/new church (again…)

Ok not a full on rant this time but a gentle observation…
Having read Margaret’s blog at Bridteacher about their rather dull Pentecost service, I had to share something I heard today. I have spoken at length about my old church, so I won’t go on but today I heard that last Sunday the congregation were told that there wouldn’t be a sermon that Sunday as they intended to show a slide show of the proposed re-ordering of the church. Right. A sodding slide show. On Pentecost. The birth of THE Church, they show a slide show. And if they think re-ordering their church is going to make it more attractive to the parish they are sadly mistaken. People do not go to church to see nice seats with cushions. They go to meet with Jesus and those who want to meet Jesus go somewhere where he is.
Again, I am not going to go on about how wonderful my new church is, but by contrast on Sunday our curate was out the front yelling, ‘come one, come and get some prayer, come and get filled with the Holy Spirit…’ and so on.
So I know where I would rather be…

Is prayer necessary?

I have been rather absent this week, partly because I have been tired, partly because no.2 has been off school ill and partly because my brain needed a break from all the stuff I have been questioing and posting on recently. Well I thought a break would be nice, but seems like God has other ideas as there’s always other issues appearing in my brain to be analysed. So this week, while I have been quietly trying to ignore him, the thing that has come up is prayer. I believe in the power of prayer, even this morning I prayed about something that someone then came and talked to me about at church. But… if God knows everything and has it all mapped out for us – why do we need to pray to him? I don’t mean giving thanks or in praise, but in asking him for things or praying for someone in need. If he knows the outcome why should our prayer make any difference? I recognise that this also links in with the predetermination discussion, ie: that if he know who is going to be saved, why do we need to evangelise etc etc.. Someone recently, in talking about a road accident in relation to prayer, said, ‘what about that girl who died – did she not pray enough? was no one praying for her?’ and I thought, no that’s ridiculous, it was a freak accident. ok so maybe you could start talking about the force of evil, but in relation to prayer or lack of it I was a bit stumped.

As always would love to know your thoughts…

difference of opinion – part 2

one of my friends (Hi L!) said to me this morning – you do discuss some deep topics on your blog don’t you? I laughed. but I do think its important. I have spent so many years just shelving anything that I didn’t want to hear or couldn’t address, and I’m not prepared to do it any longer. If something occurs to me, if God puts something in my head, I now address is straight away rather than let it fester and getting feedback on here from others with a very wide range of opinions is very helpful, so I thank you all :)
Covering all this stuff does mean that sometimes I get a bit full on, for which I apologise, but I just need to do that right now.

So… following on from yesterdays post, thank you all who commented it has been really useful and although I haven’t been back to it for a couple of days I have been mulling things over. In fact I read all the references people left and looked at various others too, and it has made me think a lot! but the thing that surprised me most of all is the level of hatred and loathing towards those who are gay. I had no idea that in our society such vehemence could exist towards others. In fact it is sickening that because of one persons sexual chosing they should be so demonised. I think that is the one single thing that has shaped my feelings most. As Lesley said, Jesus was always on the side of the downtrodden, and as Christians aren’t we supposed to be emulating him? I have to say there is nothing like an underdog to make me stand up for them!, and that isn’t because I am specifically trying, it’s just part of me. and the thing I have realised is that actually it really doesnt matter (to me) about homosexuality. Why should I feel the need to have it labelled as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? because either way we are all Gods children. If I were ever to be in a position of having to counsel someone on this, my advise would be to listen to God. If you are in a loving relationship and feel that God is happy with it, then go with it. I guess the issue arises when someone in a loving homosexual relationship feels that they are doing wrong (and I have had one friend go through this recently which is probably another reason why I am trying to get my head around it). I guess its about acceptance of anyone, no matter what their background, their past, their sexual prefernce (and I know this is a pretty bloody obvious thing to say ) and maybe I just needed to be reminded of that.
As Alan said over on his blog:

‘…why we can’t accept that we have differences of opinion over this and recognise that we are all trying to follow the teachings of Jesus as best we can?’

So for now, I don’t have an opinion either way and I intend to stay that way. I am sitting on the fence, which is very unlike me. In fact this is another new thing I have learned about myself, from this debate, which is that I don’t have to have a strong opinion on everything. (You have no idea how much it pains me to admit this!!). But I do know that we are called to love each other
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

Jesus said love one another AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. so that should be our example…

differences of opinion

I write this after reading both Lesleys blog about how others view the church and Sue’s over at ‘Significant Truths’ about Mary Glaspool being consecrated as assistant Bishop of Los Angeles.

Although I am not a believer in lables, I guess I am probably more on the Conservative Evanglical side of things than anything else. However I very strongly believe that it is not our place to judge, there is only one who can do that. It is our place to love each other and accept others as Jesus would have done. Lesleys blog yesterday gave an alternative version of the parable of the woman pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet which actually really touched me – really made me see why this was so significant. Jesus dealt with all sinners with love and compassion (and after all, we all sin, there is no ‘well that sin is worse than this one’…) he met with them any way he could, how they came to him. He didn’t say, ‘you must purge yourself of sin before you come any where near me.’

However where should the line be drawn? Whilst all should be welcome, is it not going against our beliefs to just let anything go? If the church has particular core beliefs or doctrine then surely they should be reflecting that? But at what level? Is it ok for them to preach on contraversial subjects in church but not to confront people themselves. And at what level should it become unacceptable to go against those core beliefs. For example if a vicar is known to be cheating on his wife, but is about to be made a bishop, should the issue of adultery be addressed by his/her superiors before the appointment. If a lay preacher has a violent temper towards his family, but wishes to go for ordination, who should decide whether this is ok or not? Whilst we do not have the right to judge, at what point does the church say, ‘that is not accpetable? ‘

Now at the risk of going down a difficult path, something I struggle with (yet another thing…) is homosexuality. Different churches have very different views on it. Prior to my renewal of faith I kind of felt that anything goes. I am a very tolerant person, and it didn’t bother me one ounce. Now though, that is being challenged. I am not becoming homophobic, I have several gay friends who I love as much now as I did then (in fact we went to a civil partnership celebration on friday). I also feel that people should be welcome in church whatever their background or sexual chosing and I am not about to start preaching on the subject, I just want to get it straight in my own head. So… the big question is, is it right? and if not, then where should the church draw the line? – I have to admit to feeling rather doubtful about homosexual priests or as in the case of Mary Glaspool, becoming bishops. But I still feel very torn as to what I used to think. But who has the right to say so and at what point? (other than in death at the pearly gates…)

I’m sure I will get plenty of comments on this and I just want to make clear I am not being judgemental or declaring what I believe is right or wrong, I really need to hear others opinions to get some clarification so please do comment away.

beautiful day

Today I had the rare opporutnity of a few hours with my hubby with no children in tow. He had an afternoon off and a granny agreed to do the pick ups, (thats one of the kids grannies, not a random one..). So we decided on a walk in the beautiful South Downs. Coupled with glorious sunshine, a picnic and I repeat NO CHILDREN, it was just lovely.
We had our picnic in a small churchyard just under the downs where we saw this in the sky. Yes I know it’s just two planes crossing and when you live not far from an airport this does happen reasonably regularly but I still love it when it does.

emotions :(

What is it that makes our emotions come out? and don’t give me all that hormones stuff, it’s the wrong week. Yesterday I was angry, today I feel like crap.
I am tired. I am grumpy. I am fasting for a load of people I don’t know when I really want chocolate. It’s only for a few hours but I am resenting it. Which is stupid because I don’t have to do it. I do actually want to.
I have spent my one morning off going to my daughters nursery to do art with them. I resented it. Which is stupid because I actually wanted to do it (and the kids loved it)
I have to do a Tescos order because we have no food. I am resenting this, which is stupid because we need to eat and its far quicker and easier than going to the store.
I have to do some stuff for the school PTA. Which, yes, you’ve guessed it, I am resenting, which again… is.. yes, stupid. because I want to do it.
I now have 2 hours and 47 minutes until I pick up no.3 from nursery. What I would like to do in that time is sit in the bath with a crappy novel and a large bar of chocolate. Then when the water is cold and I am so wrinkly I look like I’ve aged 30 years I will get into bed with a hot water bottle and the electric blanket on, just l because I can and read the paper.

In reality I will do the Tescos order, do the PTA stuff asap, run around doing a quick tidy, plan the dinner and then do the pick ups. I will then spend 3 hours running after the kids, making dinner which they won’t eat and dealing with strops because they are tired. and that doesn’t even account for the TA who will probably have some crisis or other which will seem so banal that I won’t care, but will try to show that I do and fail miserably.

So, which of the two routes do I go down? If I go for the first I will have to work extra hard tomorrow. I will have to explain to the rest of the PTA why I haven’t done what I should have done about a week ago, I will have to explain to the family why they are eating stale crusts for tea and to the husband why he has no dinner. I will also be letting down those people who I said I would pray for and on top of that I will have no reasonable excuse. So I will soldier on like some kind of bloody martyr and feel sorry for myself. Which is stupid because I really have nothing to feel sorry about, other than that I could do with a day off. A day off from being me, from emotions, from family, from God, from everything. Which let’s face it is not going to happen. ever. so I need to stop being a miserbale sod and get on with it. but oh… chocolate would help so much.

‘Angry and frustrated’ from Sussex

I’m not sure why, but this morning I am angry. Ok I do know, but I don’t know why it is now that I am angry.I have written copiously about the traditional church, so I’m sorry to say this is more of that, but on a different level you will be pleased to hear. I think I am writing about it so much because God has put it on my heart and I just don’t know what to do with it.SO my main gripe is that parish churches – and I am speaking mainly about those known to me local to me, but I know it’s a wider issue – are failing. They have minimal congregations, largely made up of the blue rinsers. Stuck in their ways, not willing to change or see that they even need to. Do they care that in 20 years time, when they are all dead there will be no one left? I hate seeing churches closed. It pulls at my heart. Not for the lack of believers as there are believers out there, and in many cases growing congregations – just not in the traditional church buildings. No, it is for the very fact that those buildings have been built, in many cases hundreds of years ago, for the very purpose of worshipping God. People have been worshipping in them for so many years and yet they end up closed, and turned into housing or bloody supermarkets (as noted here in Alans blog). What on earth is that about? As I have said previously, I am an architecture fan. I love looking at old architecture, seeing the years of use that a building has had, the worn down steps from years of people kneeling at the altar, the marks on the ceilings from centuries of candles burning underneath… These buildings are full of our history and full of Gods love. And we let them close down, deconsecrate them (and thats another thing – is that even possible in a spritual sense?) and let them become ‘just another building’. I know in some cases this is done very sympathetically but it’s not about the aesthetics for me.So, why does my church – part of the Church of England, but definitely at the far end of the spectrum – have to hire a sports hall each week for us to worship when the village church is practically empty? Is this not completely the wrong way round? There are people out there that want to believe, that want to worship, that need something more. This is not about falling numbers, they are rising in our church. So… why, oh why can’t the Diocese see that we need more of this? Why do Vicars, Bishops, whoever makes the decisions just stick their ground and not see that change is needed? Oh, it makes me so angry. I feel sooo angry right now (we had a sermon on revival in our area this morning, so that’s probably why now). Why don’t they sodding well wake up?Wake up oh sleeper!… (Eph: 4:14)As I’ve said previously this is not about getting rid of the traditional – I know people like to worship in different ways – but just to make room for something else. Try something different. If you want to get people in, you need to provide what they need. I want to see the parish churches in our area packed to the rafters. I want to see people in them filled with Christs love, worshipping for that reason, not because they are going out of habit, because that’s what they do on a Sunday.I’ve an idea that keeps coming back to me and I have no idea about how to deal with it. I am sure it is from God because the more I ignore it the more it comes back. It’s not a new thing – it occured to me in my old church too. But the idea is to have kind of a travelling service. One that has a band and a good preacher (or preachers), a basic format initially, that goes to a different church each month, once a month. The main premise of each service would be to work with the parish to get people back in to that church. It wouldn’t be about getting people into our church, but back to their own parish church. This could start small with just a few churches so that each church had one of these travelling services maybe once a quarter, but with the plan to get people back in, get them involved and then they eventually take over the running of this quarterly service. From there who knows…. This service could ahve all sorts, from the basic servcie to then follow up evenings hosted by the parish for those that want to know more, which could then lead on to other things… The church is so often literally at the heart of the community and it should be so on so many levels, not just becuase it’s in the centre of the town or village.I do not mean this to be like a plant church taking over another. It needs to work with the existing churches, in order to appeal to the people in their parish, with the general aim to get people back in so they can run with the idea and grow. I know I should be doing something with this but I have no idea where to start. It’s not that I want someeone else to do the work, I am happy to work hard at this, but I need doors to open. If it is of God I need him to open those doors for me, and if not , well then Lord, please stop bringing it to my mind because it is very frustrating.BTW does anyone know where I can get figures on congregations from? I’d like to see where congregations are growing and where they are depleting, just so I can do a bit of research!Ok, rant over, anger is poured out. Will let you all know if doors do open…