Numbery Stuff

New blog!

Hey there,

For those of you following this blog I will now inform you of my new one.
For my Journalism degree I have to create a professional blog for future use. It would be great if you could meet me over there and help make some great discussion.

This new blog is more heavily centered upon social media, technology and faith.

If you want to take a look, please check it out Here.

 

Thanks a bunch,

 

Luke

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Faith, The Final Frontier…

These are the voyages of the Christian Church. Its continuing mission, to discover the Father’s love, to seek out The Holy Spirit and the Son of God, to boldly preach where no one has preached before!

Church is pretty awesome. In the words of this year’s Spring Harvest theme, it’s “God’s Brilliant Idea”, and they’re right.

Being born in the 90’s has meant that I have missed out on a lot of good things. Yes, I’ve seen the year 2000 go by, watched technology advance at an awesome pace and seen the first images from Mars, but I missed out on a gem from the past. Star Trek – The Next Generation.
I love this programme. Being a sci-fi fan from birth it’s great to see a show that isn’t just about killing aliens, but about alliances, exploration and science. Plus it has star ships and the android Data, what’s not to like?

Once whilst watching an episode of the show I started to think about Church – I started to notice similarities between the crew and us, as the family of God. The crew of the Enterprise-D is so very diverse; it encompasses a range of different species from a handful of different planets. There’s humans, a betezeoid, a Klingon and a Bajoran just within the main crew, all working together in harmony. Isn’t this true for the church too? No, I’m not suggesting that your stewards are Klingon warriors, but that in every church there is a wide range of people from a range of backgrounds, all working together for God. We’re all acting officers aboard the Lord’s Enterprise.

The way in which Church is so diverse points out another great aspect of our Godly family: it’s openness to new people. To become so diverse the Church mustn’t be afraid to greet anyone with open arms, or in a more Trekkie terminology, form alliances in good faith and generosity.

The similarities between Picard’s crew and the Lord’s continues, this time moving away from physical instances, to the mission each party is looking to complete. The crew of the Enterprise are looking to “seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no one has gone before”. Isn’t that pretty much the church? We as the church are looking for new people, to ‘make an alliance with’, or in our church terms, to minister to and show the love of God.

And then there’s the prime directive. In Star Trek, the prime directive of Starfleet is to keep out of the way in which other civilisations function. Before you start wondering, that isn’t the church’s prime directive, quite the opposite in fact! What I’m getting at here, is that it’s good to have a universal mission statement, a prime directive, the most important direction our actions should take us.

This may all seem trivial to you, a happy coincidence for sci-fi nerds and telly addicts, but I hope it doesn’t feel like that. I hope that you’re inspired to boldly go, to minister where you haven’t before, and to accept everyone with open arms.
Lets make Church a Star Trek Church.


Public Considerate Political Correctness?

“I got a feeling about political correctness. I hate it. It causes us to lie silently instead of saying what we think”
Hal Holbrook

It’s that thing we’re not supposed to talk about. You know what I mean right? That government conspiracy that halts every aspect of life? It is ridiculous isn’t it? I mean, I can’t even run naked through the streets with a toaster on my head because of Political Correctness. I’m right, aren’t I? This is Political Correctness gone mad?

Or maybe I’m just behind the times.

Political correctness doesn’t mean I can’t run naked through the street, that’s the law on public indecency. And as for having a toaster on your head, unless you find it offensive for me to tell you that I have a toaster on my head, it’s again not PC, just health and safety.

Just to clarify: I do not have a toaster on my head.

The other day I was having an in depth conversation with an ‘old codger’ about child protection policies, and how annoying it can be when you’re involved in youth work. He looked at me and said, “It’s that thing isn’t it, that, what do they call it? CP? No, PC!”

The sad part is that this is true for much of our older generations, and the trend of being anti PC is quickly flying down the ranks.

The rebellion against Political Correctness, although in its majority passive, is a bizarre scenario. Whilst there is a public outcry against PC, with slogans such as “its PC gone mad!” there is evidence that PC is actually working in our society. To understand what PC is doing to our society, you must first realise how it is trying to achieve its goal.

So what is Political Correctness and what is it doing?

It’s a Jedi mind trick. Hypnosis. Subliminal messaging. None of the above.

PC is simply an attempt to change the way we think as a society for the better. The whole idea is based upon the Theory of Determinism, which whilst sounding like a bunch of boring whatever jargon, is actually pretty sensible. You see, Determinism is the idea that as a society, the language we use determines the way we think. I know this sounds quite terrifying and mind controlling, but when you give it a bit of thought it all makes sense. Here’s an example phrase: ‘Friendly Fire’, this one is a corker, since when is shooting your teammate a friendly thing to do? Only when there’s some politically awkward friendship with daft Americans involved. The idea with the use of ‘Friendly Fire’ here is to soften the blow, change the way that we feel about the event, make it all a bit nicer. Be truthful to yourself now, what sounds better? ‘Friendly fire’ or’ Americans with bigger guns than their brains shooting our brave Tommys?’.

So really Political Correctness is out for good, to make the world a bit brighter and stop people being so pessimistic. And for a lot of people this eventuality is an acceptable, or even  good thing. Some however, particularly stubborn old traditionalists, disagree with PC.

The Scottish Feminist Linguist Deborah Cameron has strong views concerning PC. She claims that Political Correctness ‘Covers up the bigger issue’. Essentially she is concerned that by focussing so much on the language used today, we are not effecting the subject of this language.

Put into context she is saying that, by stopping racist language, we are pretending that racism isn’t happening. So what some factions do is take these racist, taboo words and make them their own, dusting them up with a brand new meaning.

 

Reappropriation

The reappropriation of words is quickly becoming a trend, particularly among those who are less appreciated by our society’s use of language. Reappropriation is essentially where a group decide to take a word and use it differently, to give it new meaning, or ‘re-appropriate’ the word. By doing this they hope to change the way that the rest of society perceives the meaning of the word. An example of this is the black community’s use of the ‘N word’. The term nigger became taboo after the mass racial discrimination of black people throughout the 1900’s, but its use is surprisingly coming back.

Less surprisingly than the reappearance of nigger, or ‘nigga’, is the way in which it is used.

The newer generations of the black community have taken it upon themselves to reappropriate the word. On the agenda for this horrific word, is the opportunity to be a term to describe your best mate. In essence, the ‘N word’ is being used in much the same way as ‘homie’, or ‘bro’.

Yes it’s lovely that they’re bringing words back and all getting along smashingly, but it’s still not quite right. The downside of the way in which Reappropriation works, is that it still doesn’t solve the problem. What ends up happening is that we move from no-one making use of the word, to a minority of people making use of the word.

Taking our example, we are now in a place where it’s socially acceptable for black people to use the word amongst themselves, but for any other skin colour it’s an outrage.

Now this may sound all tickity-boo to you, but should it? After all, what’s really happened here is that a word has gone from being abusive, to being a ‘privilege’ only held by a minority within our society. And this sadly emphasises once again, the division our language can create within our communities.

And on that note our publicly hated, yet unknowingly loved friend Political Correctness steps back in.

The only thing is that PC can never seem to do it quite right either. It always ‘takes it too far’, or is just generally ‘ridiculous’. An example regularly used is the use of ‘Visually Impaired’ or ‘Hearing Impaired’, where deaf and blind people say that there’s nothing wrong with being deaf or blind, and that they feel offended by these new terms. Not that it’ll make any difference to someone who is both deaf and blind.

So whilst it’s true that PC doesn’t always get it right, does that mean it’s wrong?
All that Political Correctness is trying to do is sculpt a polite, caring community that use a polite and caring language. Is it really so wrong? Should we really hate it so much? Not really. And if you suddenly decide to run naked through the street maybe now you’ll now know not to shout “its PC gone mad!” as they cart you into the van. You might even remember to respectfully call the Bobbies ‘Police Officers’.

Political Correctness has set itself a long struggle, against the current of our society, and it has a never ending job to do. It’ll have to push through abuse, rebellion and a few stubborn camels before it ever gets near its goal. And for that I respect Political Correctness.

If you choose not to, that’s up to you, but for those of you still thinking it’s a suppressant, a terrorist, a nuisance, an annoyance, or generally any other nasty noun, just remember one thing:

It’s still your choice.

I’m off to buy a toaster.


Does our discipleship need discipline?

Discipline. It’s a nasty sounding noun, the kind of word that your parents or teachers would use.Discipline To me it connotes a cane to the knuckles – or in modern day schooling being sent out of the classroom with ringing ears. After a few quick keystrokes into the magic box that is known as Google I was delivered, promptly, this rather discouraging definition of discipline:

dis·ci·pline/ˈdisəplin/

Noun: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience

Hmm. Okay, maybe we’re better off without discipline in our discipleship. But wait! As Christians, this definition isn’t right, is it? It’s missing out a key element, the God element. The eternal patience and love of our Father and creator, who wants us to succeed through love as opposed to fear and intimidation. Our God is missing here, and the purpose is all wrong. He doesn’t want us to obey rules; he wants us to live his guidelines as an example for others. Let’s re-write this definition, with God in mind:

dis·ci·pline/ˈdisəplin/

Noun: Trying your best to achieve your best, through the patient guidance and support of the Holy Spirit

As we’ve just seen, discipline with God isn’t restrictive; it doesn’t limit our growth in faith. Instead it provides structure and support, guiding us through our journey with God, ultimately enabling us to explore more fully.There, much better – if I do say so myself. So now that we’ve clarified discipline in the context of Christianity, what is it that makes it so important in our discipleship?

So what are the dos and don’ts of discipline in our growth with God?

There’s no definite answer here, it’s really between each of us and God, how we connect with him and how he speaks to us is different for everyone. What anyone can do however, is seek the Holy Spirit, asking him to show us the best path. Once you’ve found what’s best for you, set a plan or a goal. How often should you pray and why? When and for how long will you read your bible? How regularly are you going to tell your non-Christian friends about Jesus? It’s all part of discipleship!

We all work in different ways, some people may feel like God wants them to read a verse every hour or even minute (If you can manage that then congratulations!) others however need only a passage every few days, maybe because they do so much for God in other ways. Ultimately it’s down to who you are and what’s good for you and God! Remember though, in this discipline there’s no need for an ‘Ack! I forgot! Time for fifty star jumps!’ attitude (Although if you want to, by all means do. Get some exercise and discipleship!) Instead, in our failures, we just need to re-centre, shift the focus back to God and say “Ok God, my bad, but I’ll try to do better this time!” and then jump back onto the wagon, full of spirit and devotion!

It’s not about getting it right, it’s not about reading more than your Christian friends, it’s not about making yourself feel good for trying with God. Instead it is about showing God that you are willing, and trying to keep in tune with God – so that you may be the best you can be for him in your discipleship.

And now thirty press ups! You could have been praying all of this time!

 

Written for the Morf Magazine Blog – http://morfmagazine.com/blog @MorfMagazine


Spring has sprung, and everyone is shining

So at Spring Harvest this week everyone is encouraged to not take lightly our importance to God, and to shine brightly in his love.

We’re only on the second day here at Spring Harvest and things have really kicked off excellently. The thousands that attend have flocked to the variety of talks on offer, learning, sharing, inspiring as well as being inspired and of course coming close to God. The talks have been passionate and interesting, the worship is exciting and modern and the attendees are as abundant as ever. In fact if you listen carefully on site, I’m pretty sure you could hear the turning of bible pages right now. Which is impressive, especially as everyone is either asleep or at the after hours events.

The theme for the week couldn’t have come at a more necessary and relevant time, it’s something that we really need to think about and really need give to God. The theme this year is church, actually. Sorry I couldn’t resist.

We’re looking at the building blocks of the church, what it is, what the bible says it is, what we think it is, what the bible says it should be, what we think it should be and also why should it be that way?

The first night we were fortunate enough to have a great talk from Krish Kandiah, author of ‘How to save a life – Becoming a Christian’. In his talk we looked at the church and it’s congregation, and our attitudes towards other church members. In a sincere heartbreaking story Krish told the audience of how his church had gained new members, of a less privileged background into the congregation and the thrill of the new members, seeing them coming to Christ and taking the plunge, literally. The heartwarming tale was then dashed with sorrow, with what many of us may have experienced before. One of the congregation of this church had had enough. She had decided that these new people weren’t right for the church, saying that “smelly people shouldn’t be in a church”. She left her church because of this. Isn’t that terrible? That because of these people’s already unfortunate circumstances they are looked down upon?

This has made me think. A dangerous prospect I know, but inevitable none the less. How do we ever expect to bring people to Christ, if we don’t think that they should be in church, that they don’t deserve church. It’s terrible!

Jesus is the foundation of our church, he is what it is built on, his actions, his faith, his love, his grace and his mercy. So what should we do with the church, if it based upon all of this? What Jesus did. Jesus turned away none for the things that we look down on others for, prostitutes, lepers, sinners, and even the tax man were all loved by Jesus.

We should as a church be taking our negativity towards others and giving it up to God, saying “take this from me Lord! I don’t need it!”. We should instead fill ourselves with the love of Christ, to bursting point if you have to, so that if you can’t give that love out, you’ll just do by accident in your every move. We need to be a loving church, a welcoming church and an out reaching church, going beyond the people it is nice to save, and instead focussing on those who need Jesus more, but don’t even register on our evangelistic radars.

Think about this:
What do you do to reach out to others?
What should you be doing?
Why aren’t you right now?


Speak now or forever hold your peace…

The government is in motion, making decisions on the possibility of gay marriage within the UK. What should their verdict be?

I’m going to start this being completely straight … ah wait, maybe I phrase that differently, I’m going to be completely honest with you. I don’t know my opinions on this. All I know is the facts.
A large group of Christians throughout the UK are against this move, and it’s understandable really. As Christians we’ve grown to “know” that Homosexuality is wrong. It’s there, in the bible:

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (NIV).

There it is, right there. It’s wrong, right?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling a little uncomfortable right now. I believe the bible is right, homosexuality isn’t a Godly act, but does that mean that we can deny others – most probably genuine, lovely people – the right to happiness with a partner?

I decided that I was never going to figure this out myself, and went in pursuit of someone who had a bit more of an opinion. I ended up asking a fellow member of my local church, which has recently been asked by another member of the congregation to sign the petition against gay marriage. She had signed this petition, but then bizarrely told me that she didn’t know what she thought yet either! “I don’t know what I think of it really, but what I do know is that it goes against the traditional view of marriage, as depicted in history and the bible, between one man and one woman”.

Hang on, is that another view point? Oh dear, this is getting more complicated, but I think that it’s getting more precise, which is good. Breaking it down we have a couple of different debates within this, and we shouldn’t get them confused. There’s the debate on gay marriage, the actual marriage act; then there’s the debate on gay relationships. Often combined this argument gets the bad bits from both sides. So is gay marriage wrong? Should we not feel a bit uncomfortable, denying people the same rights others have with those that they love?

Don’t get me wrong here, this article isn’t about bringing any sense of conclusion or final thought, it’s meant to provoke thought and make you think about where you stand. After all, why listen to me? I don’t have a clue.

(P.S. What do you think?)


Will We Ever See Poverty Perish?

Image

It has always been around, but for how much longer? As human beings, the idea that some are better off than others seems to be at our core. Is it possible that this could change? 

I recently read a book called ‘58: Fast Living’ by Dr. Scott Todd, and have had an overwhelming revelation over the future of poverty. ’58: Fast Living’ has been deemed ‘unapologetically hopeful’ in its approach to tackling poverty, and from my own experience reading the book, that’s exactly the way it is. You see, ‘58’ is more than just a book; it’s a new movement by Compassion International, inspired by Isaiah 58.

 In 1981, 52 percent of the world was in extreme poverty, today that figure has been halved to 26 percent.

The book provides some amazing statistics, such as the fact that in the last 8 years, the amount of deaths attributed to measles has been reduced by 78 percent (733,000 per year to 164,000), a huge amount, I’m sure you’ll agree. The book also states that in the 1980’s, 40,000 children die from preventable causes every day, amazingly, this number has dropped and dropped until today it stands at roughly 21,000. There are more figures, such as; every day the amount of children dying from preventable causes is reduced by 19,000. This may sound remarkable, but it’s true!

One of the main statistics, and surprises, employed by this book, is that we have halved the amount of global poverty since 1981. This figure is amazing, and true. The World Bank released figures that state that in 1981, 52 percent of the world was in extreme poverty, today that figure has been halved to 26 percent.

As Christians, it’s obvious to us that we should try our hardest to do what we can, for everyone. The message for us is to get out there, and show everyone Jesus’ love. The parable of ‘the Good Samaritan’ and the most important commandment are just a couple of examples of the ways in which Jesus told us to treat and love others. But the thing is, most of us lending milk to the people at number three is about as far as it goes. Of course we try, we influence our colleagues, friends and even strangers at coffee shops… but that’s it.

Is it really possible that we could end poverty? What we need to do, as Christians, as people, is to get ourselves out of that rut. That ‘poverty will always exist’ attitude. I don’t know about you, but I believe we can make poverty perish, we can be that Good Samaritan, we can make the world a better place, and we can do it through and with Jesus’ love.