Thursday, 28 April 2011

Archbishop Of Canterbury on the Royal Wedding

It’s going to be a great day. Enjoy! And God bless William and Kate. Also it is going to be a great opportunity for evangelism; A Christian service for a Christian couple being seen by 2 billion people worldwide. These words from the Archbishop really spoke to me…

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

There For Me

As many of you who are close to me will know, about a month ago, my Nanna died. It was very sudden, and was obviously very sad, and a big shock to all of my family. I can only begin to imagine how hard it must be for her children and husband.
I remember though through the whole situation, getting this amazing sense of God just being there; He was taking care of things when she was ill, he ended the suffering in a humane way.
He helped me to mourn – bringing verses on mourning to my head through prayer, moments BEFORE I had found out she was ill. He also gave me great avenues – whether it be speaking at the funeral, or at the Christian Union, or any of the many other ways.
He was there to comfort me; Through his words of comfort in prayer, to the wonderful friends were there for me (you know who you are Smile).
He was there to keep me going – the strength he gave me to get coursework done in that first week, which was also deadline week. This strength came through prayer.
He was there to pick me up; He found the right services for me to listen to and watch, the right words to say to me.
He found my words – when I was speaking to relatives, and words were hard to find, he helped me to do this.
He guided me, including already mentioned verses on mourning, given to me moments before I heard she was ill, as well as getting me to read John 14, with no one knowing I was reading it, and then the next day being asked to read that exact chapter at the funeral.
Thanks for everything Lord,
Thanks for everything friends,
Rest in peice, Nanna

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Platini: Politics and religion should be kept out of Football.

"We have to keep politics and religion out of football and sport, that is very important.”
These were the words today from Michel Platini, President of UEFA, European football’s governing body. This was a statement made in response to recent events including the the bombs sent to the Celtic Manager, Neil Lennon.
I would like to first of all say that he is right to condone this kind of behaviour. But although this has been done by Christians, it is not Christian behaviour. At no point in the Gospels does Jesus tell his disciples to attempt to ‘maim and kill’ anyone they disliked. In fact, Jesus teaches the opposite. ‘Love your enemy’.
It is not so long ago that football hooliganism was causing horrific casualties every week, and it still happens occasionally. Was the the fault of football, which encourages fans to support a certain team? Was it the fault of the footballers? No. It was quite rightly the blamed on the perpetrators – the football hooligans.
So in this case, is it the fault of religion, or those who perpetrated the crime?
I am going to go as far as to say that this type of behaviour has no place in Christianity, so rather than focusing on removing religion from football, why not focus on keeping this kind of behaviour out of religion?
Why not work to use religion as a force for good in Football? There are many organisations out there that recognise the importance of the link between the two. Organisations such as Christians in Sport.
Religion should be kept out of Football? Try telling this to Christian professional footballers Linvoy Primus of Portsmouth FC and Darren Moore of Barnsley FC; They set up the organisation ‘Faith and Football’. Here is a quote from their website,
‘Faith & Football was started in 2002 by Christian professional footballers Linvoy Primus, Portsmouth FC and Darren Moore who now plays for Barnsley FC. Along with Mick Mellows, the Charity Director, they decided that as Christians they wanted to serve their local community by helping young people and their families, be positive role models and help make a real difference!
From that simple beginning Faith & Football has grown so that it now provides a range of community, educational and overseas programmes using football as a platform for relationship building. We have mobilised the Church to meet and serve people where they are in life’s journey and to make Jesus’ message of hope known to all.
A team of 4 full time staff members and over 150 enthusiastic Christian Faith & Football volunteers in Portsmouth, Birmingham and Plymouth faithfully serve their respective communities by delivering our programmes. Christian professional footballers support and participate in everything we undertake.’
Would they agree that religion should be kept out of football?
I would say that if Football authorities want to get rid of violence in football, they should actually encourage people to read the gospels. Where in the ‘Love thy neighbour’, ‘Love your enemy’, or ‘Do not judge’, does that suggest sending letterbox bombs to people?
Jesus is not the problem. He’s the solution.

Monday, 11 April 2011

What a few weeks!

It is really hard to believe the last few weeks have only been a few weeks. It started with family tragedy (which I will talk about at a more appropriate time), then business presentations, choreography assessments, and finally a show!

The family tragedy element I will try to leave out of this blog, out of respect for my family. I will concentrate instead on everything else.

Ok, the business presentation....

This is something that I will again go into more detail about in a future blog, because it is part of something much bigger that I believe God has put onto my heart.

It has been such a mad rush trying to get everything together, and there have been so many times when I have thought 'This is never gonna happen', and then thought 'No, if it is of God, which I believe it is, then he will make it happen, I just have to keep faith.' It was one of those situations where I HAD to rely on God, because I was winging it; I couldn't see really past the next couple of minutes of work at any given time. Not saying that I wasn't working hard, but large amounts of the time I was winging it, as I think we all do to a certain extent; Hoping that if we keep ploughing on, it will all come together.

The day before was a nightmare day; with one person suddenly saying they had to leave for a doctor's appointment, leaving us a person down. When that happened I really didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The rest of the team worked so hard; I have been blessed to have had them on my team.

And actually, i think this is a great time to mention just what they each achieved; One of them managed to get over their fear of writing academic work by plunging himself right into it; The amount of times I would get home and find him working away. Yeah, he found it hard, but he stuck at it.

The other managed to produce a fantastic website. He never needed any reminding or prompting, he just got on with it. He also turned into reality the company Logo, and created all of the design elements. I think both of them did some fantastic work.

I remember the night before, me and one of the others on my 'team', stayed up pretty much the whole night trying to get everything finished. Part of the work was to write a journal. We only had one computer between us, so we were doing 15 minute shifts.

It must have been about 4 in the morning, and he was on the computer. I decided to use this time to just pray and worship; I went into the other room, stuck on some worship music, and suddenly felt something hit me. It was like God whacked me into action. In the next half an hour of working time, I must have easily written 1000 words. I was finished by 5.

I woke up again at 6 to get ready for the presentations, which started at 8:30. I made sure that I spent a good deal of time again before this praying.

The presentation went really well. I really felt God moving in that room when we did it. The three of us seemed to really pull together. The presentation itself seemed to pull together. I think that we all seemed united behind the idea. Bare in mind as well that we'd only had about an hour or two's sleep between us.

This is an area of my life that I had very much included God in. I would dare to say actually that it is God's idea that he has very much had the grace to include me in.


On Wednesday night, I did some healing on a friend of mine's leg injury. I have since heard back that the healing worked, and the leg is much better.

'Why Make A Song And Dance'

One of my regrets whilst doing this show, is that I didn't make enough time for prayer; Because of rehearsals, I missed things like cluster meetings and worship sessions, without really making up the time anywhere else. This led to a lot of times when it felt like something was missing.

The times I did pray though made a massive difference; I remember on the Friday night, for example, I spent the remaining seconds before going onstage to sing my Solo, asking God specifically to 'speak' through the performance. This was actually the first time it felt like I was telling the story to the audience. it felt like I was preaching a message rather than just singing.

On the other nights, he also helped me to manage my nerves; Nerves are a funny old thing; You can be completely confident one night, and flooded with nerves the next, and on the Saturday night, I was really feeling it. I could feel a gulping reflex developing in my throat, and i knew it was going to be a job of nerve - management. I prayed to God for help getting through this - for strength, and I saw that he was right by me, as he had been the other nights.

Yes, I was still nervous, but I managed to get through the performance with this gulping reflex, without it being derailed.

I think as well, it is just a massive comfort to know that he is there, onstage with you, and that he can help to make up for your shortfalls. I remember I really felt him there on the first night, and although I came of the stage with legs that were so much like jelly they were ready to cave in, it was a real comfort to know that he was there with me, holding me up, supporting me so to speak.

It was really nice to hear encouraging comments back from people as well; The head of faculty said to the head of performing arts 'My God! Hasn't Joe improved!' Well I genuinely believe that this is down to the impact that God has had on my life, the changes he has made in me since I came to faith, and all of this is available to ANYONE who asks God for it, and comes to faith. It is so hard to believe that I have only been going to church for a year, and I am so excited to see what he is going to do in me in the future.

Anyone reading this – Christian, Atheist, Agnostic – here is my challenge to you. Close your eyes, put your hands out if you want to, and just ask God to come into your life, to reveal himself to you, to work within you, to bless your life, to give you strength, or for anything else you feel like you need in your life. Maybe you feel it’s time that you gave your life to Christ. Spend as much time as you need, and don’t forget to include some listening time.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Street Pastors

The other night I was out with two friends of mine, and we saw a girl fall over. She was quite clearly drunk. We immediately went over to her to see if she was alright. I then saw a bouncer on his radio. He sent the following message…

“are there any Street Pastors around?”

I didn’t know much about street Pastors, but it made me think ‘wow, these Christians are so valued and relied upon, that this bouncer’s first response to this incident has been to call for them. A few minutes later we saw a few of them in action. This made me want to find out more about them, and I just want to share a video I found.

Cheltenham Street Pastors

What a great way of evangelising, and serving the community. Even if we don’t feel called to be street pastors, should we not all be aiming to be more like this in some way or another? What can we take from this and put into our everyday lives?