Saturday, 5 April 2014

My life story - republished

A few years ago I wrote my life story in a blog format - and wrote about the first 20 years. Today I rescued the story from my old Myspace - I thought I had lost it as Myspace had thrown away all the content but somehow I have it back.

I'm not convinced some posts aren't missing, I thought I had written more, but anyways here it is.... if your interested..... my life story from 0-20...... enjoy

Part 1

My Parents were Salvation Army Officers until I was about 14 which meant that our family moved around a lot - by a lot I mean we had lived in 4 very different towns in 14 years (and weirdly 5 different houses).

Then my parents felt that the Salvation Army was not the right ministry for them any more (for various reasons which i wont go into) and after what I'm sure must have been much prayer and consideration (although must say i wasn't aware of it) my dad became a Methodist minister and my mum nothing more than a ministers wife (as the Methodists turned her down). So this was another move to a new town.

Now before I move on to the next part of my life I feel I must talk a little about the first 14 years, but I find it hard as I cant honestly remember much of it.

I may have blocked it out, or I may have been so boring that there's not much worth remembering I don't know, but what I can remember is the following:

I remember loving St Ives and trying my hand at fishing and selling my poor fish on the beach, I remember my fatal enemy Jonathon (i think his name was), i remember loving school so much that when I had tonsillitis I refused to have the day off only to have a major fight with the for-mentioned Jonathon who i ended up biting and getting told not to come back to school til the tonsillitis was better (not sure what tonsillitis has to do with fighting or biting but I'm sure they had their reasons). I remember scampi and chips and batter bits, and getting pooped on by a seagull when on a march..... wow actually I do remember a lot of insignificant things..... but then I guess that was how I felt back then insignificant.

We then moved to Belfast, and again I only remember a few small things.... getting mugged by someone half my size who was showing me how to get somewhere....starting boxing.....finishing boxing....a couple of bomb scares....getting lost on a bus, but not much more - although the one thing i always remember most is the friendliness of the people!

South Shields may as well not happened, only lasted a year and well other than learning to play euphonium not a lot happened.

And that was the end of my Sally Army times.

Now at this point I secretly was lost (no not physically) as not only did I not have a clue where I was from (a question I never know how to answer to this day) but I didn't know who I was. My brother was the cool one, good looking, sporty, the rebel, you name it he was it! my sister was 3 or 4 years younger so didn't come into the equation and there was me - who was I?

I remember my first day at George ward school in the sham, I walked into the class and was introduced to the class and the first thing i heard was Jasmine say "awww crap I was hoping he'd be good looking!" (its ok to laugh).

At first I found myself making friends and sort of enjoyed it, but suddenly I got scared - I dont want to make friends then lose them again - so I remember sabataging these friendships in many ways almost deliberatly in order to not have to say bye when we left. Of course I soon realised things had changed and thank god I repaired some of those friendships but I still had the shadow of mr popular above me so had to do something.

I threw myself into music - as a fun activity but not seriously. i sang, i played and i made friends secretly wishing I was with the cool kids but at the same time enjoying having a group.

I havent really mentioned God much yet have I, possibly because I was coasting in my faith. I attended church as I was forced and to be honest it was embaressing - oi Matt your dad did our assembly today etc etc. I remember one day he was doing a talk to the CU and decided I should be there. He sent someone looking for me (and I didnt do CU at this point) who eventually found me and I told him to tell my dad he couldnt find me!

If I had a faith it certainly wasnt personal.

Finally I got freedom to choose to go to church and i stopped but as God would have it a holiday at Easter People was not far away. well this was it, the moment I was going to make my stand, I was going to prove my dad, the church who had messed up my life that god did not exist and I was given the best opportunity ever!

This was the time when the toronto blessing was a big thing hitting the church and so there were seminars on it etc. Now I attended this meeting and remember people going up front to be prayed for and they kept falling over etc. I decided i would go up and stand there and not fall - that would be so hillarious wouldnt it? or even better I would feel the person push me and I would refuse to fall! well God thought it would be hilarious too and yes I ended on the floor and felt him in many ways and decided if a god who i didnt believe in would do this to me,..... and well yes i became a christian.

stuff at school and home didnt change much, I found a youth group who helped me learn and even attended CU every so often, but I became known as the christian geek, but I wasnt really a good one.

I remember beeting up a boy who basicaly called me the one name I could not cope with - I was called many names and only one round me up and got me deeply angry and upset - STATTO! (if you know fantasy football you know who and why!)

well sixth form came along and suddenly it became cool to be different and my prayers had been answered - my brother left school - oh and people began to know me and like me and ask me about christianity etc.

I took over CU and made it (with a lot of help from God) a bustling busy fun place to be rather than the shabby thing I refused to attend before. I was involved in missions in the town and was on a mission from God.

Unfortunatly this was partly due to me not really wanting to be there at school and not having a clue what the future was for etc. I remember breaking down in tears when talking to my tutor about my alevels and her response was "im not allowed to do this but i have to...." and then gave me a hug and proceded to say she didnt know i was so unhappy (neither did i lol).

again God stepped in and at a christian event I went up front to be prayed for about whether i should drop out of school and do something else. Well once again I ended up on the floor and whilst god did his stuff with me I eventually stood up and thought ummm scuse me God but I was asking about dropping out of sixth form not about dropping on the floor and a guy approached me and said "I had an image of you playing football!"

now lets get things straight - im more likely to be used as a football than to be a football! my bro was the sportsman I wasnt. me playing football ha ha ha.

but God spoke to me over the next few days and turned that image into vision for my life and revealed he wished me to be a youth worker.

I remember telling my dad I was going to get my driving licence and live in a camper van and drive round the country setting up youth cafes, my dads response - you need qualifications for that - and suddenly I had motivation for my alevels - i would be going to uni etc.

A renewed motivation did help (sort off) and I struggled through the rest of my first year of a levels but failed my mocks twice and was on the verge of getting kicked out. eventually i got throught them (maybe i cheeted in one exam maybe i didnt - i like to think of it as using my initiative) and life was good again.... untill i said the fatal words "I have a normal family with no major problems, my parents are together, no one does drugs etc and we have a house" little did I know that none of these would be true within the year!

now children I need to have a loo break and maybe even get some sleep so at this exciting stoppage point I will stop but watch out for the next exciting instalment in the coming days or weeks. 16 years down 10 years to go..... ok you can wake up now!

Part 2

are you sitting comfortably?

then Il begin....

When we left the exciting life of morety our hero was aged 16 contimplating his "normal" family and with a renewed motivation in his studies. He had a aim for the future and had a strong faith in God. So what next I here you cry, well lets find out.

now at this time of my life I had to fill in Ucas forms to apply to university, and when talking to people about youth work degrees I was told I would not get in because I was too young as apparently they all want mature students. well I was convinced God wanted me to be a youth worker and so I applied and prayed and out of the 8 I applied for 7 accepted me and I fell in love with St Martins college in Lancaster. I saw this (and still see it) as confirmation of my calling to youth work.

Back at six form my work rate had improved and I was begining to think I may actually pass the 2 Alevels I was now doing (I started out doing 3 but in their wisdom - without even telling me - the school decided I wasnt good enough for music so chucked me off that course!)

At the same time my family were begining to get close to our neighbours. Liz and family were a great bunch, she was a school nurse too which was very helpful as that would mean a lift to school so I was happy 

Our family were so close that we started making jokes about my dad having an afair with her as they were clearly so close.... yes we all laughed at that.

Now as you know my dad was a minister and so spending time with people is and was a natural thing to do, and so it wasnt unseen for him to be out a lot - this was why we didnt really batter an eye lid about it, he was doing his job.

Then one week the churches of our town were doing a big week of mission and prayer for the town etc. In my wisdom one night I decided I would go to a prayer meeting which my dad had already gone to - because I was struggling with an essay.... I meen because i felt God challenging me to pray for the town yes thats it that makes me sound spiritual. well I got to the prayer meeting looked around and couldnt see dad, but no biggy - he is a busy man afterall hes probably had a call out from a dying woman or something, so I just joined in and (if i remember rightly) it was a really good meeting and time of prayer.

So When i get home, because it was such a good meeting, I asked my mum nievly "where was dad tonight?" and got the reply "at the prayer meeting" and once again in my oh this isnt weird at all voice I said "no he wasnt coz I was" and my sister who was also in the room just laughed as well. Now I knew my mum fairly well (I knew her from my birth you know) and from her reaction I knew she was not happy but was making light of the situation for me and my sisters benifit. The idea was when dad arrived back we would just say "where you been tonight then?" in a really laid back fashion and see what he says.

He walked into the room and we sat their pretending to watch tv, and I was worried - was it wrong trying to catch him out, should I warn him? but then I thought nah itl be fun and hel have a good reason so we asked and he said "at the prayer meeting" then preceeded to get the dogs lead and take sandy (our dog - RIP) for a walk. My sis was sent to bed my mum ran upstairs crying and I walked out of the house and followed my dad - he turned and saw me and then said "you went to the prayer meeting didnt you?" i nodded and asked where he went and he told me how he had gone to the pub with liz as he needed some time of R and R. Well I told him mum and naomi were pretty upset and went home.

Next I got home and rang John my youth worker and asked him to take me to the pub. Eventually he agreed and we chatted and I told him I thought my dad was having an affair etc etc and he done his job of reasuring me etc etc and yeah I went home and that was that.

life went on as normal for a bit longer and I cant actually rememeber what order some of these next things happend but Il just write some of the parents saga in no particular order so that you fully understand what was happening.

I remember walking home from youth club and deciding I wasnt going to walk the normal way home and walked the back route. just as I turned the last corner my mum walked towards me in tears. I ran to her and was like whats wrong, she through her tears told me she was walking this way to avoid us, I asked again whats wrong and the fatal words "I asked your dad if he still loved me!" and????? I asked knowing the answer and she said "he didnt answer!" Confused surely this is good..... nope apparently this proves he doesnt. So i walked and talked with her for a bit and she told me she was going to stay at someone elses house that night.

I remember (possibly the same night) having to run after my sister who was in tears to talk to her about how she was feelgin etc because she knew what was happening (like we all did). this was when i should have been doing an essay. (the next point will understand why I say this useless info)

I remember a parents evening where my tutor told my parents how my work improved until a certain point when I didnt do an essay and didnt seem to care or offer an excuse as to why I hadnt done it. I got home and my dad was fuming and had a right go at me so I had a go back lol.

I remember writing a letter saying if they cant be together in love theyl be together in grief and walked to a bridge to jump off. I stood there and suddenly the idea I couldnt jump coz i was too scared to even go on the nemisis hit me, and heard clearly God say go to Ians house instead. I went and told him and John (the youth worker who was there for whatever reason) what was happening. They prayed for me and i went down in the holy spirit again. this made me strong and suddenly I was mr supportive.

Im afraid someone has just arrived at my door for a meeting so i am going to have to return and continue in the future....

what diiference will the holy spirit make to me?
did I ever tell my family how I felt?
did i get my alevels?
did my parents stay together?

for the answers to these and many other questions come back for your next instalment of my life in the future.

bye for now

Part 3

Im going to try to get to univerasity in this part as the first 17 years of my life have gone a lot longer than I thought they would....

are you sitting comfortably?

then Il begin.

Well before i was rudely interupted by my meeting I was telling you all about the many things I remember about my final year in sixth form. And I left it with my third major experience of the holy spirit (further details of which are mentioned in my mini testimony)

So as youd expect the Man Upstairs doesnt use his Spirit for nonsense and after my time on the floor I felt so much stronger and I can honestly say it felt like the family issues were happening to someone else and not me.

It must have shown as I remember one day being driven to school by my mum and her asking me how i was feeling and how it was affecting me as I was supporting her and my dad and allegedly my bro and sis but didnt seem to show much about myself. I shrugged my shoulders - not because I didnt want to answer but to be honest at that point it didnt feel like it did effect me.

now despite all this my parents were still together and they were both sort of trying to make it work and stay together but I knew from what they had both told me and from what i had heard that they were staying together for the sake of the children.

Finally a family meeting was called and we were told the truth which we all knew anyways - that they were splitting up. my dad was moving out - he was giving up his role in the church etc and well hed still be our dad etc etc. all the usual jargon.

well the thing is before this meeting I knew one of the reasons they were staying together was me, my a-levels. they didnt want to mess up my a-levels apparently, and i seem to remember being told this and laughing it off saying something like if you are going to split up you should do it, dont want you in an unhappy situation during my exams.

but at the same time of doing this one night i snuck into my dads office and got all his bibles out onto his desk and looked up divorce in the subject page and was disapointed to see in the first book they were already highlighted! So I decided to highlight every single verse about divorce being against Gods plan in all his bibles - just to help God give my dad the message!

so news had broken of the local methodist ministers marriage trouble - what happened? well they all swarmed around the minister to support him - they seemed to blame my mum and deserted her and our family (in my view) and it was weird because I still kept going to the church, partly because it was the only stability I had, partly because I wanted to be the thorn in their side to say we wont go away, and partly coz God was still helping me after the boost of the spirit and it still sort of felt like It wasnt me or my family it was happening to.

This did however meen I could finally tell my school what was happening and tell them why i hadnt done essays etc - i was trying to sort my family out isnt that more important than a silly essay?

I couldnt tell the school before it broke as my dad was the minister and he was also a school governer and so it just felt like I couldnt sabotage his career even if he was doing it himself.

I do wonder if all this helped me in the long term as I ended up getting 2 Es for Alevels and thats with the school writing to them asking them to take circumstances into account - what would have happened if they hadnt? maybe an F? lol

So i was no longer a student (I got the award for person least likely to be a vicar  ) and that summer our family was due to be taking part in a ministry exchange with a minister in America. My dad was due to fly out before us and then we were due to join him after a few weeks. Wel that was the plan before the seperation - after the seperation my dad went on his own and we were due to go without my mum a few weeks later.

Well after a couple of weeks me my mum and sister were visiting my nan in London and my mum got a phone call, it was my dad! He missed her and wanted to get back with her etc and was going to come home all the way from america to get back with her.

He came back and before he did I spoke to my mum and she told me what she was feelign etc and my advice was "dont take him back!" i basicaly argued that if he wants her back he has to earn it and its too easy for him if she took him back now! well she ignored me and took him back but he did agree to cut contact with liz the other woman.

So all was well.... ummm no that would be easy wouldnt it. He still got texts and phone calls from her and I remember one day I was on a car trip with him and he got a phone call and didnt even hide who it was calling. He then proceeded to ask me not to tell my mum as he did want to cut contact and stay with her but it was hard etc etc. I was like yeah i understand and done the supportive thing and didnt tell my mum. But i think i did tell him he was being an idiot! lol (Im harsh aint I?)

well as me, my dad and my sister eventually flew out to USA to contiunue the exchange with my mum due to follow in a few weeks as she was now studying to be a social worker.

when there we had a good fun time but he was still ringing liz, and i remember talking to her daughter to check what was going on. Then one day I snapped. what was the straw that broke my back - not being allowed to go online lol

There was a library opposite where we were staying and i went there a lot to go on the net and chat to friends etc. Well I had also promised to mow someones lawn while they were away and i decided I would do it when the library was shut. Well my dad didnt like this and so started giving me a lecture on commitment etc. well that was it, he would not use that word with me - I let rip! I yelled at him about commitment at how he had made a commitment not to contact liz, how he had commited himself to mum and how he was not living up to his commitments. he shouted back denying phoning liz and i shouted back telling him i know what i hear and see - then the comedy moment that always happens in arguments . my sister walks into the room and shouts hes right dad ive heard you too - so what do I do? do i thank her for backing me up? no I turn around and shout shut up naomi this is my fight so go away! and carry on the big row.

oh then i went and mowed the lawn lol

The exchange went on and the argument was in the past with the next tense moment being david beckhams infamous sending off lol

we had fun

then my mum arrived and a weird thing happened - they werent even sharing a room.... hmmm i think this marriage may be over!

well to be honest I dont remember much more in terms of the family time in America - i know i went shooting, i know I went on water skies etc and had great fun at pancake festivals etc but not much else other than when i found and read my dads exchange diary!

It was pages and pages of stuff about liz. his love for her how he missed her etc etc. not much stuff suggesting he was married.

what did I do? well this time I sort of told my mum lol - and she said oh youve seen them too have you? and asked me not to tell dad i had seen them which i didnt.

well eventually we went home and it was declared officially over (the marriage and the holiday) and well that was that. Well except my dad still had to work out what he was doing for a living. he was offered a church near london. and he accepted it. Then one random day he visited us and came in and asked me whether i thought he should go. well me being me said....

well he didnt go to london and he resigned from the methodist church, so I guess he listened lol.

hold on what happened to my normal family? lol

well we did have a family meal very soon after this - my 18th bday meal. us all sat around a table with a nice roast dinner with the best yorkshires ever made. small talk kept to a minimum and it was very subdued - but at least it was a family meal lol.

the church were still being prats, now acknowledging it wasnt my mums thought and so turning on my dad but still rejecting my mum, and they even tranfered my sisters membership to anouther church - without letting her know!

and then I left this mad family behind and went on a year out to Darlington. I will talk more about that next but the one thing i must say about which fits in here is the sunday morning i get a phone call from my brother asking have you read todays news of the world? i was not awake and was "ummmm andy its sunday morning i aint even dressed yet" and he told me to so i went out and got it only to discover page 3 double page spread was a story about "ministers wife preaches love thy neighbour" ec etc. well they had photos and everything.... my response.... i got upset because apparently my mum was a mother of 2! how dare they write an inacurate story about my family AND have the cheak to write me out of our families history - just because i dont live there anymore

To this day my dad still refuses to call it an affair which he had because it was not sexual, and to this day im not sure he realises how much hard he did to everyone in our familiy. He has apologised to us all for what happened, and he is now happily married to Liz. I have forgiven him, altho dont know if ive ever told him so. Sometimes it still hurts, sometimes i just want to travel back in time and slap him. Hes still dad and I still love him. anyways thats the family break up sorted in the next part Il look after theafter effects on me.

Will the past haunt me?
will I get to uni?
what was darlington like?
what ever happened to morety?

these and more questions may be answered in the next un exciting instalment of moretys life

wakey wakey

Part 4

So people actually like hearing about my life do they? well i warn you it gets boring from here....but il continue anyways.

You may remember at the age of 18 I left my mad family to travel up north to Darlington (near Newcastle). Well this was a decision I made as I decided that I needed a bit more experience of youth work before I studyed it.

Through an agency called "Time For God" I got a full time placement at "Wesleys" which was a none alcoholic youth venue for young people built in a building attached to a methodist church (as the name suggests).

well this venue was great, it had a proper bar, a pool table, a stage, DJs, everything a nightclub would have (with the exception of the alcohol).

I lived with an old couple who were really nice. They gave me a bedroom of my own and fed me and basicaly treeted me as if I was a member of the family (which makes it even more terrible that I cant remember their names).

I attended a methodist church (not the one attached to wesleys) and it was one of those churches full of children, and one of those churches that didnt mind them being noisey - it was a church the way church should be!

So yeah it was a very different place to where I had come from.

Now as you can see I was begining to enjoy myself, I was away from all these trouble of my family, i was working (granted not being paid) and people who i knew knew me for me, not as the ministers son or Andys brother or whatever.

so what had I left behind? well My mum and sister had technically become homeless as the church had to get the house for a new minister (and they decided to change the locks the day that my mum moved out - as if she was going to break in or something?) and were now sharing a tiny flat in emergency council housing waiting for a house to become available whilst all of our families belongings were in storage. Im not actually sure where my brother was living at this point actually, to be honest I didnt stay up to date with any of the information from home that much, as I was really begining to get to the stage where I felt like I had to say I cant cope with your problems as I have enough of my own - I didnt say it, but I wanted to any time I was told about how bad things were etc.

now I sound selfish? hmmmm

anyways back to where I was living.

Welsleys was a challenging year. i was giving the role of bar manager, keeping the stock under control, sorting out prices menues etc and general other stuff. I also worked closely with the DJs to provide entertainment during club nights and when the place was hired for borthday parties.

one night i was one of the blues brothers, one night i was one of the village people (without the camp behaviour tendancies), one night i was the compere of stars in their eyes, a few times I was in Steps and one night I was given the honered role of keeping the band Clock (yes they had a chart hit once) entertained and happy when they got paid a very large sum of money to come and mime - sorry i meen put on a personal apearance.

God challeneged me a lot that year. I started to try to work out who I was and where I was going.

I started to resent everything that had happened in my family, and would get annoyed that I seemed to be the one who would be confided in and be expected to support members of my family even tho i put myself in that role in the first place.

It wasnt an easy year at all, after 3 months of me being there the managers of wesleys left for bigger and better things and no one was appointed as their replacements which meant no one was there to support me or run the venue other than the other part time staff and volunteers. This made the people closer in the sense we met to pray and worship together more often. This in turn made us a more effective team and taught me the importance of team work etc and I really felt close to God in many ways.

Despite feeling closer to God I did have a major grudge. I believed in him 100% and I knew he loved me etc, my major problem was I also hated him. How could he let my parents get divorced when I was sure he was sorting it out, how could his church make my family homeless and treet us all like dirt, and how could he let me feel so down even in the happy times (but this bit wasnt exactly obvious as I faked happiness as much as possible coz people liked me so yay!)

Wesleys had one major problem in my last few months - no one was doing funding bids to keep the place open, the big concert we organised with the pop band was a flop and lost money, and basically the whole venue was very quickly losing money. No manager - no management - uh oh.

Well I left after my year was up and a year later it went bankrupt, but when it was open it was an amazing ministry and resource and God blessed me a lot through it when I was there, just a shame I didnt particulary like him that much really.

During this year im sure a lot more things happened which are meaningless but were fun, im sure i met people who i classed as friends, im sure i visited my mum at christmas etc and im sure a lot of other events took place but to be honest I cant remember them.

It was a good year, but I had issues, but I wasnt prepared to admit that to myself, to God and definitly not to anyone else!

right anouther year over, time for anouther break! (this is getting like neighbours)

in the next instalment we will explore: -

the university years (now they were interesting) and the many questions I cant think of now.

bye bye for now, see you next time.

Part 5

So my year out was over. I had more experience of youth work, I had lived away from home for my first time, and I had began to work out who I was. What next?

University. I attended St Martins College in Lancaster studying a Youth and Community Studies Degree.

I remember my first day, my dad had driven me up there with all of my stuff and I was in halls of residence along with 6 other guys. I didnt see anyone at first and got all my stuff into my room and my dad was getting ready to leave and he said shall we pray before I go. So he did. Im there with my eyes open my dad with his hand on my shoulder with his head bowed, my door open and there I see a complete stranger stood there. I acknowledge him he waves and sort of apologeticaly nods and walks into his room. I felt pretty embaressed but tried not to show it. Dad left and I got about finding my new housemates.

Sam (the guy from the door) was a great guy, he was slightly older than me and very serious but with a wicked sense of humour.

Cam was about 10 years older than me and was your average steriotypical builder come youth worker.

Ian was a "short fat scouser" (my description)

rob was the good looking brummie (not my description)

Tom was clearly the heartbreaker but was great as well.

and the 6th name I cant actually remember.

the thing is - God was once again working his magic and Ian, Rob and Tom were all christians, Sam was a bit spiritual and we all got on great. By the end of the 1st year Cam was also a christian.

That day we Also met our new parents. Andy and kirsty!

The CU had a hall parents scheme to help us settle into university life and they would visit us every day for the first term to see how we were etc. Was very valued resource.

One of the first discussions we had was about alcohol (students lol) and I fatally said "I dont drink much when I do I drink a lot!) - well that came back to haunt me.... lets take a few moments to look at my many incidents of drunken behaviour during that first few months as a student (This in no way glorifies getting drunk as this is shocking - but these incidents are funnyish)

in Freshers week I went out with my housemates and flirted with a few ladies and on the walk home after the club shut me and the ladies were invited to continue partying somewhere - I did and was very drunk. I went to the loo, and fell asleep - well a bit later i awoke and went home. The next day I woke up with writing all over me, under my shirt on my shirt etc - how it got there I do not know.

There was one fatefull night where we all went to a club and Igot a bit tipsy, well the club shut and I was refusing to leave - I didnt want to go home. Well eventually they got me home and I decided i wanted to go out again and they wouldnt let me. So I went to my room listened for them to give up guarding and then made a run for escape. Tom came after me and I had a big chat with him about the right or wrongs of mobile phones and how it wouldnt matter if i lost my mobile coz my mum paid the bill (which she didnt actually)

One morning (possibly same as above) I awoke after a night out and had a few missed calls from a girl called Kirsty. Oh I asked myself why did she ring me so many times at stupid o clock in the morning. Well I asked her and was informed I had texted her saying they had locked me out of the flat and thought I was an alcoholic. hmmm how we laughed as news of that message went around.

There was the night we were all in a club and I was blatently chatted up by a random man - who certainly undoubtebly was flirting just dont ask how i know.

The night I drank 14 aftershocks in 15 minutes. (how did i survive that?)

well thats enough to make me sound like an alcoholic for now so il stop - its worth saying I was letting my hair down. I had money for the first time in my life, I had friends and I had no responsibilities for the first time in my life so i went wild. God knows how much worse I would have been if i hadnt lived with Christians who were great and who i spent most of my time with. they kept me under check - even if i didnt appreciate it at the time.

The degree was really interesting in 1st year - I developed my own routine of doing essays the night before they were due and doing minimum amount of studying. My coursemates were a mixed bag some into drugs, some christians, some idiots, and well yeah.

I got along with them all and my confidence just kept growing. Kirsty (the girl mentioned above) was my workmate on the course - she was the tart, slept around but i got along with her brilliantly. Im convinced people thought we were sleeping together because we would go to each others rooms the night before essays were due and sit there writing essays together. We were inseperable in many ways and to be honest part of me fancied her and felt a little jealous about the fact that I wasnt given the option of saying no (which i was sure i would as i was saving myself for marriage obviously )

that "relationship" ended when she changed the course - after which she never spoke to me again. Something that even now I hated as it proved that for her we wernt friends, whereas for me I felt we were.

I did grudginly go along to CU at first, mainly because of my flatmates and hall parents, and it was great there was a real community feel. I felt at home and was really part of it. I wasnt serious enough for some tho and often felt slightly agreeeved becuase I wasnt the theologian, the worship leader etc etc. I was a little jealous of my housemates to be honest because by the end of the 1st year Ian was worship co-ordinator, Tom was president of CU, Rob was the heartbreaker who everyone fancied (and always dated the ones i fancied) and had a role which i cant remember 9but he did become president later) and I was given the roleon the social commitee (which i later became leader off) - I didnt feel they took me seriously at all - yes it was my own fault but come on - I could preach, i could sing, i could do anything why didnt they ever ask me?

I have to go so will continue reflecting on the first year at uni in the future, this year will include:

2 major deaths
a few months in Northern ireland
a day dressed as a dalmation

amongst other things.

(plays the theme tune)

Part 6

well well well lets us continue with my first year of uni.

I was a bit of a joker back then, and maybe a bit of a bully - and i focussed my mean sense of humour on one of my housemates! Ian!

He was the one i refered to as the short fat scouser, and he annoyed me a bit, not sure why, possibly because he had everything i didnt. His family were/are amazingly close to each other, he was clearly very intelligent and was a work aholic, and he had the coolest monobrow (ok maybe it wasnt cool but he had one!).

I once said of him - "as long as i get married before Ian I will be happy!" and guess what - he was the first of our uni crowd to get married - and I was his best man! who says God hasnt got a sense of humour?

So he was the target of my cruelty (sorry Ian) - Im sure i did more jokes etc on him but the one I remember most was the day I stole all his clothes from his wardobe and then went around the college and planted clues in lots of places which would lead him to find his missing outfits. A sort of treasure hunt. Well when he went on his journey I simply placed all his cloothes in the flat next door!

he rang me at every clue and shouted abuse about how he was losing his temper etc and I just kept laughing and telling him to follow the clues. He did eventually get his clothes back and im sure he found it funny at the end of it - but he didnt at forst lol

Weirdly by the end of my time at uni he was my closest mate - the only person I lived with for 3 years and was possibly the only person I fully trusted. even now I chat to him alot!

Anyways thats very weird when you consider that the day he asked me if I would look for somewhere to live in the 2nd year with him I only said yes cause I felt a little sorry for him.

He did make himself easy for jokes tho - lets focus on him for a few minutes:

he took 20-30minutes in the shower and could have been a woman the time he took to get ready for things.

the day before he was being given the role of worship co-ordinator of CU he was banned from the college computers for allegedly looking at porn (something which he was proved innocent of doing!) - who was the first person he rang and told (as he was very upset) - his mum!

he once searched for christian sheet music and got a rather dodgy site!

Well thats probably enough about him - seeing as this is supposed to be my life story! As we go on you will probably see that over the 3 years at uni we became very close and I couldnt say how much I appreciate his friendship and support - sometimes in ways I didnt expect!

The other highlight of merit of that first year (before I talk about the last 3 months of my first year - which was me being on placement in Londonderry/Stroke city/Derry in Northern ireland) which deserves a mention was my day as a dog.

One day I went to a fancy dress hire place in order to get an outfit for a fancy dress party in the evening. Well when I saw the dalmation outfit i had to get it - then I saw the cost - well I hired it anyways and walked up to uni and thought to myself "ive paid for this i should get my moneys worth" and so I put the outfit on and walked around with it on for a while.

Then i attended my lecture wearing it, went to the cantene and had lunch in it, went to the pub in it, and generally spent the day in it. Im sure people thought i was on some sort of tv programme or something. The party came, and I remember one student scared of me - coz she was scared of dogs!  of course i spent the whole party trying to talk to her lol.

Right well as I said the final term of my 1st year was my placement. I was working with an agency called need to know in Northern ireland, they went around in areas finding out the needs and wants of the local community and set up things to meet them. It was a great experience, and I loved N Ireland even more because of it, altho I did have to leave early as when the marching season began there were a lot of issues locally to where I was staying and some roads had to be closed etc - my boss saying to me you better go now that you can because theres no guarenteeing you could get up to belfast in 2 weeks.

There were some lowlights during that placement the main once being 2 deaths which deeply effected me and my future.

I was at the house that I was living in, I was alone, the time was about 6pm and i was due to be on my own for the whole night. My mobile began to ring and it was a name of one of my friends from Melksham - I was extatic as I hadnt spoke to him for ages. Well as soon as I answered I noticed his voice didnt sound right. He asked had I heard the news, I said no and then in not many words he said "Andy musselwhites dead" - now andy was my closest friend from youth group at church. He was cool enough and popular and so when he was my mate I felt like one of the popular kids. We used to drive everywhere in his amazing car. I thought it was a joke at first although couldnt see the punchline. He had been in a car crash, he was driving and wasnt wearing the seat belt. Everyone else survived!

I put the phone down and walked into the living room and completely broke down. I dont remember anything else about that night - I know I cried a lot, I know that I rang a few people who knew him hoping it was still untrue. I know a few days later I rang John (Andys dad and my youth worker) and arranged to go home for the funeral. All I can honestly say about that night is that I felt nothingness! I dont think Ive ever felt like that since - he was about 18, I was 19, he couldnt be dead. I rang Andys mobile 5 times that night, in the hope of him answering but also so that I could hear his voice one last time.

The funeral was a weird experience. my mum went with me and sat next to me along with other friends from youth group. John had decided to make the funeral a christian witness and asked Laura to talk about andy and share about his faith. they had chosen Andys favourite worship songs and had a proper band to play them. i was fine until the moment the coffin was carried out of the church. As it passed me I begand to well up and i felt my mum holding my hand and as soon as i lost sight of the coffin I just broke and cryed like mad (even as I write this tears are in my eyes - which is weird coz ive written painful stuff already and this is the first thing that has made me feel like this).

We all followed the coffin from the church to the graveyard. I remember my credit card falling from my wallet and me not noticing until someone ran after me and gave me it back. we brought the town to a standstill for about 10minutes. There were so many of us parading some of us laughing about the good times, some of us being in silence, and some of us not knowing what to do.

Andys whole family were special to me, and I still think and pray about all of them, sometimes going for a drink with Anthony (his brother) and ringing his parents every so often too.

I dont remember much else about the funeral day, although I know it was a day the way Andy would have wanted it - a party to celebrate his life. Im sure God spoke to loads of people through this event but I was Angry, anouther person gone, he didnt deserve to die! God when I meet you inm going to punch you (I honestly did say this in one prayer! lol)

I had a placement to finish so went back and got on with the work. The about a week later I was on a bus on the way to work at about 9am when my mobile rang, it was my dad. I remember thinking why on earth is he ringing me at such a stupid time and answered. He had a tone in his voice that seemed familiar and the conversation is a blur but he basicaly told me that my cousin had commited suicide. Now even tho I wasnt close to my cousin and hadnt seen him for a few years i just broke down on the bus - must have looked like a right idiot! I eventualy composed myself and got off the bus and just walked into the office and in passing told my boss what had happened.

I said I wasnt going to the funeral as I couldnt afford it time wise or financially and I just got on with the day. I rang my uncle etc and gave condolances etc and just blocked out the fact that I felt bad etc - I had no right to grieve as I didnt know him that well.

The rest of placement went on, I passed, I flew back to England and had a nice summer in melksham with my mum.

That summer was a weird one because the house they were living in I had never lived in. So I wasnt going home, it just didnt feel right. My family still had problems as well. My sister was refusing to go to school and had a real problem with her temper etc.

naomi (my sister) was the one thing which really challenged my calling to youth work. That summer she went crazy at me hitting me, kicking at me and shouting, Im not sure why. i just found myself saying to her Im going to hit you back soon and finally snapping and my mum getting in between us to stop her. It was mad, she had no control and was almost possesd. I went away from that (and the other similar times) saying to myself I cant even help my sister how am I suposed to help young people I have no connection with.

Andy (my brother) was a regular canibas smoker at this point and also had a bit of an anger problem but I had learnt to ignore him and just let him get on with his way. Things did change with him during holidays tho - not sure why but every so often wed go to the pub together and hed invite me to things. I still felt below his standard however and tried not to go out with him too often as I didnt want to be in his shadown again!

I hated being "home", I worked as much as possible - in a newsagents and in a chicken factory (a job which I hated but paid well and was sorted for me by John - Andys dad just before he got made redundant - im told it had nothing to do with giving me the job!)

I got food poisening from the chicken factory (no i didnt eat the meat!)
(just a random statement!)

Finally the summer ended and I returned to university for my second year to begin.

Sounds like a good time to stop so until the next instalment thanks for reading the foirst 20 years!

Monday, 6 January 2014

Something to think about

When you see the word "Addict" what do you picture?
Because our human brains like to see the extreme I think often people picture addicts as homeless people, unemployed, living in poverty etc. 
"Addicts" are (often) looked at with sympathy, sometimes accompanied by a hidden sense of "I'm better than them" self pride, and there is sometimes that nervousness that shows on peoples faces when they clearly don't know what to say or how to act when they find out that the person they have met is an addict, as if they have some sort of leprosy or something.
If you don't know already, I may as well admit it now, I am an addict, I have a problem with an addictive personality which has led me to form an addiction to something which became my escape route when stressed, angry, lonely, or any other emotional situation. It doesn't matter right now what I am addicted to, some of you know, some of you don't, but it really doesn't matter to this blog as that's not the point I'm hoping to make.
I will blog some time in the future about the different ways I have been supported and encouraged by so many people - who have amazed me with the way they have not judged - even when they hear the ugly stories that come with addiction. But before I continue, without naming names I just want to say thank you to those of you who have shown me a true glimpse of the miracle of Gods love by the way you have unconditionally supported me.
Its that support that has got me thinking and blogging tonight, as I look back at my journey and I am forced to ask the questions as to how did I get into this mess?
I have always been in churches and Christian youth groups, I have had my own personal faith since I was about 16, I have been involved in active church ministry for about 12-13 years, but somehow my secret addiction remained secret and, just like the cancer that it is, it grew and grew into something so big that its hard to escape from.
Of course I am partly responsible, and it is clear that I was betraying my faith, or as the Bible puts it, attempting to serve 2 Gods, BUT what I want to explore here is the questions........
How can/does/should the church help young people/young adults/adults to avoid the pitfalls of addictions?
How can/does/should the church help young people/young adults/adults to ask for help when/if they have an addiction?
How can/does/should the church support someone taking the journey of recovery from an addiction?
I know there are 12 step support groups such as AA, and they are extremely good at what they do, BUT what they do (in my opinion) is what the church should be doing - and if the church is to be truely a place for the broken, it needs to be a place where people are prepared to admit they are broken (if that makes sense).
Anyways I would be interested in your thoughts and experiences. 
I may (or may not) blog more on my journey but I really want to ask these questions whilst I remember them.
God bless.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

10 years of youth work

10 years ago I graduated!

That is very very very scary, especially as it means I've been a full time youth worker (type of person) for 10 years now, and that scares me even more as in 24 days i become 31 and I'm currently going through "the change".

which change i hear you ask....

well (whispering it quietly) I'm ready not to be a youth worker any more.

I've loved every minute of my 10 years - even the bits which i didn't like at the time, and the young people I've had the honour to work with (and there are many) have been an important part of my life - i still pray for every one of them regualry, still check up on them on facebook to make sure im still a little updated, and well lets just say I miss everyone of them regualry from those from the church on the Hill in Sanderstead (my first full time job), the the Cube gang in Market Harborough, and the youth of Temple of Praise and Liverpool Lighthouse past and present.

when I moved to Liverpool I always saw myself as a youth worker - it was my definition - my identity - my career. Slowly since then my skills and abilities in other areas have been developed by God and I have fought him every step of the way.

The time I was told I was not going to be doing the church youth anymore I fought against it, only to see myself having other doors open to me.

The time I was told I was being promoted to a managers post and would not be doing any face to face youth work - I fought and pointed out I was a youth worker not a manager, and then ended up managing and enjoying it and becoming qualified in level 6 management and leadership at the same time.

The time I was told I was splitting my time between youth work and fundraising I fought against it as I was a manager and a youth worker not a fundraiser - etc etc

well now I'm finally realising what I've been told many times before.
I'm not a youth worker!
I'm not a manager!
I'm not a fundraiser!

I am a man with huge God given potential! That potential will be achieved - and the journey starts here!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not quitting my job - I will still be working at Liverpool Lighthouse and unless God has other plans I will still be doing youth work - HOWEVER, I will not be defining myself as a youth worker.

as for the future, I'm not sure what but I know God has great things in store for me.

I believe that I will (within the next year) have my own business - having developed some of the ideas that I am currently developing. (probably part time - evening and weekend type of thing)

I believe that I will be progressing and growing personally, spiritually and financially.

I believe God is leading me into a new ministry, and now is the time he is getting me ready for whatever the call is.

Every time I've been called to something I've fought against it - God this is me saying I'm ready and willing for the next call - and I'm waiting for your time.

anyways for now, thanks for reading - pray for me if you are a prayer


don't just think about me, think about yourselves - what are you called to be? what is your potential? and do you need to lose a label?

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Tragedy - wheres God in this? RIP Lee

Yesterday a very dramatic incident happened at my church and the place that I work which resulted in the death of one of our members who was also a volunteer.

I cant pretend I was very close to Lee, nor can I pretend that he was a big part of my life, but he was a member of my church family, and more than that he was an inspirational one, and his death has led to many asking the question where is God in this?

As I lay here in bed (yes its 9:30am Im lazy) I just cant stop thinking about this question. and this blog is my attempt to get an answer which makes sense to me.

For those who didnt know Lee his story is almost as dramatic as his death. He had turned his life around from one of addictions to one of God. Only in the last two weeks was he stodd up in church saying how much God had transformed his life, broken his addictions, given his life meaning, and how he was so happy for the first time in years. God was definitly in his life, so why now?

Clearly there is no answer to this, Ive used the phrase "we just have to believe" a lot since yesterday afternoon. For some this is enough, for others it sounds like im trying to convince myself and to be honest its a bit in the middle.

I know Lee knew God and I know that hes up in heaven now with a big smile on his face partying it with the angels and the big man himself, probably waving a few flags, dancing a few jigs and generally worship God in a way we he left behind can only dream of.

but the timing and the way he died just seems wrong. He had so much potential, God was using his transformation to help transform others, he had people who loved him, he was a member of a family, why now?

Again i dont know if it was Gods timing or whether he was robbed from us but I do know God will use his passing in a way that ensures his life wasnt wasted.

This sad day has the potential to change a lot of peoples lives and anyone reading this I urge to pray, not just for Lees family buty also for the family of ToP as they grieve, for those who were witnessess and are dealing with the aftermath as they investigate and find a way to move foward, for all the staff at LL many of whom heard the incident and whom still have that sound going through their heads, finally please pray for the future - this kind of incident get investigated and investigations (even when they dont find anything wrong oher than a tragic accident, which will be in this case) change things and so please pray that God uses this as a springboard to the future rather than something that holds his plans back.

As i said at the start I wasnt best mates, I spoke to him regulary but thats about it but his death is like a death in the family. But i have to believe God will do something good out of this situation. I have to stop trying to understand and just accept that some things I will never understand. and finally I have to see how much of his potential he had already got - the bible calls us to become Gods ambassedors and ine the last few weeks he was probably more christlike than most. Hes with God now, and God will use his death the way he used his life.

please pray.


Sunday, 16 August 2009

A Fresh start

I have two of the world’s most valuable possessions. They aren’t rare, you can get them in many shops but they are definitely extremely important and valuable to us. Anyone guess what is under here?

Well you’ll have to wait and see if any of you were right

How many of you have built a bed? I have, more than once, and I have to admit I am awful at it. The first time I ever built one was when I was 20, I had graduated from uni, got my first full time job, moved into my first home on my own, and had brought this really modern wooden bed for my new room. I couldn’t wait to get it up and sleep on it. So heres how It went….

Day 1 – the bed arrives…. I unpack every part of it downstairs look at it all and think great where do I start….. realise I should start by actually putting it together in the right room, so I put everything back into the box and manage to get it into the bedroom, totally exhausted I decide that’s enough for the first day so I sleep on the sofa and continue my building project the next day.

Day 2 – Once again I empty the box, put everything in an ordered fashion on the floor of the room, so that infront of me I have a bed, well lots of pieces of wood which could be anything. I start putting the wood together and half way through realise that my bed is looking less like a bed and more like a wardrobe as I go on, so for the first time I check the instructions (I am a man afterall) and realise I may have gone a little wrong, so I decide to sleep on the sofa again and start again in the morning.

Days 3, 4, 5 and 6 – I go through the daily challenge of banging wood together, tightening and un tightening screws, trying to understand why when the instructions say it should be straight on the floor it always seems to end up at an angle, and ends up with me sleeping on the sofa to start again the next day.

Eventually I realised (im a slow learner) that I couldn’t do that bed on my own, and was lucky to have a friend visiting me for a few days and when he arrived (probably about day 9 in this story) we worked together and this simple task which had taken me days on my own took less than an hour with the two of us working together. A pair of fresh eyes looking at the instructions and a helping pair of hands made all the difference and this impossible task became possible.

You may not be as bad as me at DIY but many of us go through this same routine every day of our lives. We wake up every morning feeling like life is a chore that we just cant get right, we try to sort it out ourselves in different ways. We work hard to distract ourselves only to feel worse when we finish work for the day, we fill the times when we aernt working with distractions like TV, cars, football to stop us thinking only to find when we have a rare moment without those distractions the things we need to think about are still there. We use alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, pornography to fool our bodies and our minds into thinking theres nothing wrong, but the effect of these things runs out and we find ourselves needing more and more of these things to make us feel ok.
Then one day a friend turns up with a fresh pair of eyes and he works with us to use the instructions we were given and a helping pair of hands and the impossible task of life becomes possible.

That is what Christianity is about

Christianity is about a fresh pair of eyes in our lives – Gods eyes.

Christianity is about God working with us through the Bible to help us understand the instructions of life a little easier.

Christianity is about God giving us the holy spirit as a helping hand to make living life achievable again.

Or to put it simply, Christianity is about having a fresh start which leads to us achieving a God centred life.

So who is entitled to this second chance? This fresh start I’m talking about? I mean some of us are sat here feeling lonely, feeling like theres no one in this room despite sitting next to someone, feeling like they don’t have a friend to help them.

Well 2 Corinthians 5 verses 14 and 15 tell us “Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”

It says it two times in order to ensure no one misses it

“Christ died for all”
“He died for everyone”

It doesn’t say “everyone who doesn’t drink, smoke, take drugs” it doesn’t say “everyone with 5 friends or more” it says “everyone” and that everyone includes you even if you don’t feel like it does.

One of the hardest things for some to accept is a gift for no reason, or a random act of kindness. It seems to be that we associate such things as charity, and, certainly in British culture accepting charity seems to feel like weakness. This is one of the reasons its so hard for us to accept and understand the basis of our faith, even those of us who have given our lives to God, and have been in his church for years.

Christ came down and died for you and for me as the ultimate random act of kindness, because he knew we needed help and because he wanted to help. He died so “that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, the will live for Christ”

Again it may help to hear what it doesn’t say

It doesn’t say he died so that you can have a crutch to help you struggle through, it doesn’t say he died so that you will have to go to church and be part of a religion, it says he died so that you:

Receive his new life

Four important words to hear.

Receive – to receive something is to accept it, to open it and to use it for the purpose it is given to you.

At Christmas if you get a brand new kettle and you leave it in the box and never use it you haven’t really received a kettle, you’ve just received a box. You only receive the kettle if you take it out the box and start making tea with it.

Even if you come to church every Sunday without fail, even if you are always listening to worship songs, if you don’t receive the gift God is offering and use it then you’re missing out on the real reason Christ died.

The next word

His – there’s no room for doubt here, its not yours, its not mine, its his.

This means it’s even more valuable. When someone lends you their car, you take care of it because you don’t want to let them down. The gift God offers us is more valuable than any car, and because it belongs to God we need to take care of it.

Taking care of something isn’t about not using it, and not having fun with it though. Its about ensuring the right fuel goes into it, making sure things that damage it doesn’t get too close to it, and making sure it is used enough so it doesn’t get stiff.

New – not recycled, not second hand but new!

Life – the opposite of death

So put these four words together and its true meaning comes out: -

Receive His new life

We need to receive the gift of life, a new life, a life which belongs to God and then we need to fully use that gift of life to achieve its purpose.

This is where Corinthians continues by telling us what this new life means

2 Corinthians 5 verse 16 says “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.”

This new life means we are different, it means we have a different way of looking at things than other people. We no longer evaluate from a humans point of view – now we evaluate from Gods point of view.

Our new life means we look at the world through Gods eyes, the things that make God happy make us happy, the things that make God sad make us sad. Its important to remember that it doesn’t say we should be judging people, the Bible clearly says do not judge as only God has the right to do this. What this means is that if we see that something clearly makes God sad or angry then we should do our best to avoid it, and to help other people avoid it when guided by God.

To be able to do this we need to know God, and to know God we need to spend time with him, and so this verse of Corinthians is the reason why we must spend time with God in prayer and Bible study.

How can we say we now evaluate others by Gods standards if we don’t ever speak to him or allow him to speak to us? We can’t.

This also goes back to the point made earlier about taking care of something. We have to take care of the gift God gave us, but this isn’t about not doing things, its not about not having fun, its not about not making mistakes, its about making sure we live life with the right fuel, following the right directions, and with the right target being headed for.

Our fuel is time with God, we must spend as much time with God as we can, and definitely more than we do on things like TV and internet (as hard as that is)
If (as I have been sad enough to be doing recently) we spend an one or two hours on face book ploughing pretend farms and only spend half an hour with God what is actually fuelling you?

Our direction is the Bible, or to reuse the over used phrase “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. We need to know and understand what God says about things if we are to think like Him.

Our target is, according to 2 Corinthians 5 verse 20, to be Christ’s ambassadors so that others can see God through us and so that they may want to find out more and receive Gods gift as well.

Its not easy, but that’s why we are reminded that Jesus did this exact same thing for us first and now he is appealing to others through us.

All of this is fine, except life isn’t easy, life isn’t perfect, people hurt people, people suffer. There may be people in this church now sitting there feeling no connection to God at all, and they are probably thinking to themselves “yes yes God loves me, yes yes he have his life for me but im still depressed, still in debt, still addicted etc etc wheres God in this situation”.

And to those who may be thinking that I want you to know that God wants today to be the day you wake up, the day you let a friend in to help, the day of your fresh start.

I spoke earlier about how we don’t truly receive a gift unless we use it, and many Christians haven’t truly received Gods gift because we don’t use him the way he wants to be used.
Remember we heard how the new life is His not ours.

Well this means the stresses, the worries, the addictions, the debts, the bullys are his to. He wants you to give him total control over them so that he can take you in the direction he wants to take you.

This is even harder than becoming a Christian because some of us feel like the things we go through are too small to give to God, he gave his life for me, I couldn’t trouble him with such a small thing like this. And others feel the opposite feeling like God has done so much for them on the cross that they cant give him another problem to sort out especially one so big.

God wants you to give him every part of life.

Things you love, things you hate, the good and the bad.

He wants to heal you emotionally and physically.

He wants to take away and deal with everything that stresses you and deal with them his way.

He wants all of this so that you have truly received the gift of His new life.

Under the sheet I mentioned earlier, the valuable items.

Tipex and a rubber.

Two tools which enable us to have fresh starts, but there is a big difference between the two.
Tipex just covers up your mistakes and lets you write on top of them, only when we use a rubber do we really get a fresh start.

We all make mistakes and have things go wrong and sometimes, even as Christians we try to deal with it ourselves and tipex over it ignoring the scars etc that remain underneath the “fresh start”.

What God wants us to do today is let him be the rubber that gives us a real New life,

one where he has control,

where he carries the baggage,

where he takes the stress

where he removes the worrying

where we are free to be his ambassadors

where we are free to live a new life
where we are free

Accept that freedom today.

We are giving you a chance to physically respond to what God has been saying. The band are going to lead us in the song Purify my heart and as it plays if you want to accept and receive God’s gift of a fresh start today we have two prayer stations for you to come to.

At the prayer station we encourage you to spend time with God, just giving him your whole life, the good and the bad, and then wash your hands as a physical sign of a fresh new start with God in control.

Whether you’ve been a Christian for a long time or whether you want to give your life to God for the first time, God wants you to give him control, take that fresh start today.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

God knows what this is about!

Working for christian agencies/churches has always been an interesting challenging experience for many reasons but recently I have been forced to ask the question about how it effects your faith.

before I continue I should say some things: -

  • I believe God gives us all we need
  • I believe God doesnt put us in situations we will drown in as he knows what we can cope with and will help us in all situations
  • I believe God can perform miracles

that being said it is obvious to me that the more work you do for God the more the devil will attack, which can make the work seem harder, which can make your faith stronger - but also can shake your faith to the core.

The Devil can use anything to attack when things are going well, family, friends, sickness, managers, ministers, colleagues, funders, health, addictions, you name it he can use it. This is often ignored or forgotten by people because we know that God can do and use anything, and God is more powerful than Satan.

However it is dangerous not to remember the way the devil attacks, and be prepared for them, especially when in the midst of actively working for God. The Bible says to cover yourself with the armour of God at all times. The Bible says we are given the Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. this doesnt make it easy tho does it?

Thankfuly we know that God hasnt promised us an easy life, he just promised a life in all its fullness, and a life in all its fullness can only be achieved with the low points and the high points.

The Bible has the low points in them, Joseph being sold as a slave, Daniel being thrown into the Lions den, Disciples being thrown into prison, Jesus being Crucified, and these parts of the stories can leave us feeling like saying "oh great so follow God and all you get is pain and suffering". Then you read the rest of the stories and you realise that the things they went through were used by God to ensure that his plans for the people involved succeded and that the people themselves were ready for what he had in store.

Ecclesiastes says "there is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven" and sometimes the seasons are bad and sometimes they are good, but with God we can guarentee that when you put all the seasons together his plan for our lives will be achieved - on one condition, and that condition is that we keep our eyes on him and follow his directions, even when times get tough.

one of my favourite parts of the Bible is Peter walking on water, and I use it a lot when preaching, its not my favourite because he performed a miracle, its my favourite because Peter sank and Jesus went over picked him up and walked with him. I reckon Peter remembered that moment for the rest of his life for 4 reasons,

  1. he walked on water
  2. he feared for his own life
  3. acknowledged his fear and Jesus helped him overcome it
  4. His faith and trust in Jesus grew

For me this one scene is a step by step guide to how our lives can be when working for God

  1. we make a step of faith - start work, make sacrifices etc etc
  2. things start getting hard, we fear we made the wrong choice, wondering if we are in the right place etc etc
  3. give our fears to God and ask him to help us overcome it
  4. become more secure in our faith and trust in God more

Im about half way between point 2 and 3 at the moment, having so many doubts and worries running through my mind that every little thing has a chance to be used by the devil, and my own shortcomings, addictions, issues seem to be popping up more. But, as I write this, I realise something, and that something is that because of these things I am growing closer to God, and whilst Im along way from being the perfect holy spirit filled, tongue speaking, Gospel spouting Christian God is moulding me into what he wants me to be.

Only God knows how long I will be in my current situations

Only God knows what will happen next

Only God knows how long I will be on this earth

But those statements give me so much more assurances, because I know God knows, and God knows best so I can concentrate on enjoying my life, whatever the season, so that when me and God sit down for a pint on a cloud in Heaven I can say "thanks for the good time you gave me", and he can respond, "thanks for enjoying the journey"

so does working for a christian agency effect your faith, yes, but so does everything you do.

Lifes a journey, go with it, enjoy it, coz with God as your Guide it wont be boring!

Friday, 19 September 2008

What is the meaning of life?

We all spend our lives trying to work out which way to go, and as a man it’s even harder, because we men hate to ask for directions. We would rather spend two hours driving in circles than stop the car and ask someone how to get somewhere. My dad used to say “we are not lost – I just don’t know where we are!”

What does this have to do with anything? Well I want to tell you something, and that’s that some of us in this room are lost, and some of us don’t even know where we want to go, let alone how to get there. But I have good news for you, and that’s that not only can I tell you where you should want to go I can even tell you how to get there.

But before I tell you anything I thought Id tell you a bad joke.

A vicar was arriving at a small village church once and he had an important letter to post, he saw this young lad and asked where the nearest post office was. The boy told him the directions and so the vicar thanked him and said, "If you come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven." "I don't think I'll be there," the boy said. "You don't even know your way to the post office."

So lets start at the beginning… where are we going? Or put in the way that is used a lot more – what is the meaning of life?

This question is a question asked by everyone at some point in their lives, and many people say there is no answer to this. Well I have to tell you that those people are wrong, and you don’t even have to look very far to find the answer.

God created us in his image, and he created us to look after the world he created and to be best friends with God. When the earth was created everything was perfect, he was an artist who had put every little detail in place so that the earth was the exact way he wanted, every tree, every stream, every animal. He could have kept all of this too himself, his own private universe, but he wanted to share it, he created men and women, and he created them in his image and then he said “Fill the earth and Govern it!”

From the moment man and women were created God gave life meaning. That meaning can be summed up by one simple word. Love.

We were given the task to love the earth he created and to look after every part of it.
We were given the task to love each other and to look after each other.
And we were given these tasks because God loved us and wanted to share with us the perfect world he created.

So what happened, why is the world not still the perfect place he created?
Why is there more hate in the world than love?
Why is it that there is so much hurt in the world, with people beating people up and in some cases killing people for fun?

The answer to these questions, and the many others I could ask is amazingly simple, we forgot, ignored, and lost contact with the very thing that gave our lives meaning.

We all know the story of what happened. God gave one small rule, and even told what would happen if that rule was broken “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

No tricks here, No room for misunderstandings – a nice clear “if you do this you will die!” if only the story ended here, but it doesn’t does it!

Before I move on let me remind you what we had.
We had a relationship with God where we could walk and talk to him about anything
We had Gods trust and had been given the responsibility of looking after his perfect creation
We had a life with meaning – with love at its centre.

So the devil got involved and whispered
“That piece of fruit you’ve been told not to eat looks really tasty doesn’t it!”
“That piece of fruit looks so much nicer than the others!”
“Gods messing with you, hes keeping the best to himself!”
“Go on eat the fruit – you know you want to!”
“If you eat the fruit you won’t die!”
“If you eat the fruit you will be like God and know good and evil!”

Let’s face it, when something is whispered it’s so much louder and much more convincing and tempting, and yes the fruit was eaten. God was disobeyed and the result was death.
We lost the relationship with our, still perfect creator
We lost Gods trust
His creation was no longer perfect and so looking after it would be much harder

(smash glass)

Life’s meaning was shattered and we were doomed.

This time we have to be glad the story doesn’t end here.

Even though we disobeyed God and lost the very reason he had created us, which meant we were living life with no meaning, he still loved us and wanted the close relationship back.

He gave us some simple and clear laws to show us how far we were from him and to show us what we had to do and promised that if they were followed some of that meaning, that loving relationship, would be back, but we all know what happens when us stupid humans are told not to do something, we do the opposite and keep messing up.

Why did we keep messing up? Because we were searching for the meaning of life and ignoring God when he tried to point out what the real meaning was.

This left God with one option, that of punishment.

Before I continue lets have a quick recap, in-case I’ve lost you.

The meaning of Life is Love
Love of each other
Love of the world
Love of God

We messed up and life lost meaning

God wanted to give our lives meaning again but we ignored him.

Nice and simple, and it does help us to understand the world that we live in.

Over 70% of children and young people say they don’t fill loved.

People search for love wherever they can get it, with many doing whatever they can to make sure they don’t lose it when they think they have it.

The top reason for people drinking alcohol, smoking, taking drugs, having sex for the first time is often “I was scared they wouldn’t like me or love me if I didn’t!”

We were created to love and be loved, but because we have forgotten this and have lost this we have a hole in our lives. Most people know it is there, we try to fill it with so many things.

We try drugs and alcohol in order to forget that something’s missing, or to give our lives meaning, but these things destroy our lives even more and the hole get bigger and we need more to fill it, and the hole gets bigger so we take more, and then eventually all we have is the drugs and alcohol – every part of our lives becomes about getting a hit or a drink. We wake up, take a drink or a smoke, get dressed, take a drink or a smoke, eat lunch, take a drink or a smoke etc. It is no longer about filling a hole and making life easier it is about not being able to live without it and is infact the reason we live.

Its not just drugs or alcohol, it could be sex, work, money, football. I’m sure there are hundreds of things that people use in order to add meaning to their lives, but I want to tell you it simply and bluntly – we don’t need these things because they will never satisfy us!

The only thing that will satisfy us and make our lives the way they are meant to be is love – love of God, each other and the world!

You may be feeling lonely at school, work or at home – with God you always have someone and he will never leave you.

Your family may sometimes hurt you and you may not feel loved by them – with God you are always part of his family, and he will always love you.

Your friends may only seem to like you when you do things you don’t thing you should do – God will always be there for you and will never ask you to do anything that will harm you!

You may be jumping from one addiction to another trying to block out how you feel by using drugs, alcohol, sex, work, whatever – God is the only thing which will truly make things better.

The meaning of life is love

And the place we should want to go is back to God.

Earlier I said I was going to give you directions to how to get there, but before I do here’s another bad joke.

Two nuns were travelling through Europe in their car. They got to Transylvania and were stopped at a traffic light. Suddenly Dracula jumps onto the hood of their car and scratches the windshield!
"Quick, quick!" shouts the first nun, "What shall I do?"
"Turn on the wipers, that will get rid of this abomination," shouts the second.
The nun switches them on, knocking Dracula about, but he clings on and hisses at them loudly!
"What shall I do now?" shouts the first nun.
"Switch on the windshield washer, I filled it with Holy Water when we stopped in the Vatican!" says the second.
Dracula steams as the water burns his skin, but somehow manages to hang on. He hisses at the nuns even louder now!
"Now what?" screams the first nun.
"Show him your cross!" replies the second.
So the first nun rolls down the window and shouts: "GET OFF MY HOOD YOU STUPID IDIOT!!!!"

God knew we deserve to be punished for the way we were living. He had given us simple and effective rules to guide us back to him, we ignored them, we had turned his perfect creation into a world falling apart at its seams. But God still loved us.

The bible says it simply like this “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life”

God loves us so much, and wants us to live our God given lives so much that he gave up his own son’s life so that we can live!

Its hard for us to understand why God does this, because we live in a world where love is something we can easily throw away, parents choose to leave their children, husbands choose to leave their wives, love doesn’t matter other than when something is wanted.

With God, and the love that gives our lives meaning, it’s different. This is a love which will always be there.

God looked at the world he created, the people he made and loves it, even though he doesn’t like what we do. Because of this love he wants us to experience life the way he meant it.

We needed to be punished but he wanted to give us one last chance, because he loves us so much. His solution – to send Jesus to be punished for each one of us! He was sent and died for you!
Even if you were the only person that existed he still would have sent Jesus – because he loves you!

He wants to have a relationship with you!

He wants to give your life meaning!

He wants to replace the addiction you have with love!

He wants to hold you when you cry!

He wants to share your problems!

He wants carry you when you get tired!

He didn’t do this in order to create a religion, to get you to come to church on Sunday. He did this because he wants to give your life a meaning and he wants a relationship with you the way it was originally – where we walk and talk to him, and where we look after the world he created.

Gods done his part – he’s taken the punishment so we don’t have to BUT there’s one thing we need to do, we need to accept the sacrifice and offer him back our life in return.

If you go to hug someone and they just stand there it is not a hug.

If you go to kiss someone and they turn away the kiss doesn’t happen.

If you don’t accept the sacrifice made for you, say sorry for the things you have done wrong, ask for help to stop doing things wrong, and then (with Gods help) try to change the way you live then it’s a wasted sacrifice.

Today you have an amazing opportunity to change your life and to give your life a meaning.

You have an opportunity to fill the hole you have in your life with the very love that you were created for. Don’t pass up the opportunity, start living today.

The meaning of life is the opposite to death.

God wants a relationship with you today, accept it.

Let’s Pray

Lord thank you that you love us no matter what we do
Fill our lives with that love today so that our lives have meaning again
Speak to each of us and reveal you love to us personally.
Remove any addictions we have in our lives so that we can see you clearer
Take control of our lives whether the first, second or hundredth time