Church Is Not For Me

I saw this video earlier today and really liked it. I think it speaks for itself.

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My Spidey Sense Is Tingling

Having had a bit of a redesign of the blog, I’ve also decided to start blogging a bit more generally than I have in the past. There’ll still be a focus on youth work but there’ll also be more general Christian stuff, blogs about events in my life, as well as things I’ve found and think are just plain cool.

With that last bit in mind, I give you the trailer for The Amazing Spiderman, seemingly arriving in the summer of 2012. Having enjoyed the last three Spiderman films, even though the 3rd was a real mess (see also X3 – maybe the third time isn’t really a charm after all), I was dubious about this reboot. Andrew Garfield, the actor taking over from Tobey Maguire in the role of Peter Parker, just looked to weedy and unimpressive to be fill Maguire’s boots. However, having seen this trailer, I’m completely won over. Garfield already looks better than Maguire ever did and the film itself looks grittier than the previous three instalments at least if the trailer is to be believed. This can only be a good thing. If you don’t agree, just go and watch Batman & Robin and compare it to Batman Begins/The Dark Knight. Only one of those films is a crime against all humanity and you don’t get any points for guessing which one.

So what do you think? Will it be a Batman & Robin or a Batman Begins? Let me know what you think.

Gain the World But Lose Your Soul

The church’s local secondary school recently asked me to do an assembly. The topic: reflections on the school year. This is a bizarre topic for someone who doesn’t work at the school to be asked to speak on. It’s also a slightly bizarre topic to ask a Christian speaker to come and speak on.

I met with one of the teachers in advance of the assembly to discuss what they were after and to pool ideas. The school were clearly after something to do with achievements. Look back over the year and get people to think about what they’ve achieved and give them a bit of a pat on the back. I said that ideally I’d like the assembly to have a slightly more Christian slant to it and luckily the school were very accommodating. So I went for a slightly different approach.

I chatted a bit about the things we achieve and how they’re things to be celebrated  but that ultimately they fade away and we move on to the next thing. But what happens when there isn’t anything left to move onto anymore? To make my point I showed the video for the Johnny Cash cover song “Hurt.” When Cash filmed the video, he was 71 years old, looking very frail and suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease. The song wasn’t written about him but the words of the song take on a new meaning when he sings them and they’re heard alongside the images of the video which cuts between images Cash as a young and old man. The footage with the old Cash was filmed in the House of Cash Museum which had been damaged by flood waters and become derelict, which really serves to reinforce the idea that all of Cash’s achievements had now faded away. You can watch it below

The video shows lots of the achievements in Cash’s life, particularly his music where he achieved huge success. But the words show his feelings about what he achieved – you can have it all, my empire of dirt. All that fame, all that success, all those achievements he calls an Empire of Dirt. Worthless. A mere memory. Cash looks back on his younger self and doesn’t recognise himself anymore. That was someone else. He comments on the mortality of man, saying everyone he knows goes away in the end, a sentiment made all the more poignant by his own frailty.

So he looks back at all he achieved, all that success, but what does he have now? What’s he left with at the end of his life? Was everything worthless?

Well no, not everything was worthless. Near the end of the video we see images of Jesus’ crucifixion as well as Cash pouring out a cup of wine, symbolic of Jesus’ pouring out his blood on the cross. The video is just filled with religious imagery and reflects Cash’s own Christian faith.

Watching the video reminded me of what Jesus said to his disciples:

“What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

Cash had gained the world. Success, money, possessions, fame. But as he approached death he looked back on all those things and knew that at the end of the day those things were worthless. They were great things, things to be celebrated and  thankful for but he knew he couldn’t take them with him. Cash’s ultimate achievement lay in knowing Jesus, something that would endure longer than the things he achieved in his career and was not worthless but was the ultimately the most valuable thing he had. He died 7 months after shooting this video but he knew where he was going.

My aim wasn’t to belittle the achievements of the students. In fact I went out of my way to say they should be celebrated. But I don’t think we can be doing the gospel justice if we shy away from telling people the reality of what the Bible says. All the things those young people have and will achieve are good things, but without Jesus, they are ultimately worthless.

They might gain the whole world, but what about their souls?

 

I Am The Bread of Life

A few weeks ago I spoke at our cafe church on John 6:35-40 ‘I am the bread of life.’ The congregation is primarily Christian but there are also a number of non-Christian’s who attend as well. The talk was recorded so I’ve decided to put it up here in case anyone’s interested. The video below was shown at the end of the talk and I recommend watching it afterwards. Apologies that the video can’t be watch on this site but you can click through to youtube via the media player below.

You can listen to the talk here.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Winter Festival

Christmas is fast approaching and along with it, all the various carol services, nativities and assemblies that this season is chock -a-block with.  But trying to slip a Christian message into this  “Christ-time” is not quite as easy as it used to be.

I had a secondary assembly this morning. If I’m honest I’m not a massive fan of doing assemblies. They’re quite impersonal and sporadic so it’s hard to build any real relationships through them and it quite often feels like I’m going in cold. On top of that, the theme was Christmas, which you would think is a gift of a topic. And in many ways it is, but it’s hard not to just do the same thing you do every year and end up being unoriginal. Anyway I had a crack.  Ignitermedia have some really great videos and resources knocking about and so I decided to use their “Retooning the Nativity” video, the idea being that whilst we all might think we know the Christmas story, most of the stuff that we see in our standard nativity play isn’t biblical at all.

So anyway I tried to show how we don’t really know the Christmas story and then linked it back to Luke 2:11:

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord

and used that to show that Christmas is about the birth of our Saviour, Messiah and Lord.

What really topped off the assembly for me though was the very end.

Me: So when you think about Christmas, remember that it’s really about someone who came to save you and can still save you now.

Teacher: Brilliant, thanks for that. And let’s just remember that Christmas is a time for coming together and enjoying yourself.

DOH! I’m not sure the message quite went in there.

Anyway I decided to lick my wounds by grabbing my free coffee and watching the nursery schools nativity in the church. Seriously, it made my day! Having just done an assembly about how we don’t really know the nativity story, I was shocked to discover that my own knowledge of the event was hugely incomplete. I particularly enjoyed the part when Santa and his reindeers came to visit the baby, closely followed by some Christmas puddings and mince pies (all to the accompaniment of “The Wheels on the Bus”). Not that I know who they came to visit. The mentions of Jesus were conspicuous by their absence.

It seems Jesus isn’t welcome at Christmas anymore.

On a separate note, how would people go about giving feedback to someone when you’re not sure you can say much that is positive? I was always told to say something positive before you said something negative and on the whole I agree, even though it occasionally smacks of insincerity. But what do you do if you aren’t sure there was much that was positive? Any ideas?