Mike`s Blog

The musings of a Methodist Minister

Archive for October, 2013

Halloween

Posted by mike redshaw on October 29, 2013

Well, we've come to that time of year when Christians do battle with themselves over the issue of Halloween, for there is a great deal of opinion about it ranging from those for whom it is entirely evil to those who see it as a harmless bit of fun and over-commercialised Americanism.

My own view is that it's not going to bring the Kingdom of God to its knees for God is far bigger than any of the nonsense peddled in the name of fun, but I do worry about the innocent souls for whom this gets in the road of their walk with God; and I do believe that the concentration on glorifying all things evil builds a blockage between us and God. However, as in many things, we are often seen as a Church of negativity because we usually say “No” without offering better alternatives and without full explanation

CS Lewis said “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or magician with the same delight”

I'm with him; I believe we currently pay too much attention to them in an unhealthy way, whilst downgrading the nature of spiritual evil that they represent. However, to constantly say “no” without alternative will simply allow or even encourage further interest in evil, devils, Halloween and so on. Like a naughty child we often find ourselves fascinated by that which we can't have, rather than being attracted by what we can have. In the garden of Eden God only prohibited one thing but allowed everything else for enjoyment. Consequently it was the forbidden fruit which attracted attention and that's what the devil is good at; persuading us to have an unhealthy interest in the forbidden.

So, rather than 'bang on' about the evils of Halloween I feel we should promote far more actively, as Christians, the festival of light, All Saints day, and engage ourselves in light parties (not just children, but adults as well). Several years ago the neighbourhood children advertised they would be knocking as part of Halloween. We asked them not to and then on the following day we visited them with a smile, a card and a bag of sweets explaining that All Saints day was a Christian day of celebration when we gave thanks for those whose lives had been a good influence on us. In our light parties we can still play the traditional games of “dooky apple” and the like but shift the emphasis to a more positive feel.

Let's stop being a Church which is seen to prohibit everything, for that's how the world sees us, but let's start being a Church which promotes far more actively the God given gifts of fun, laughter and joy; let's allow people to celebrate thankfulness and enjoy doing so.

 

Like the man from Del Monte…………… “He say YESSSSSSSS

to that which is good, healthy, wholesome and God-given.

 

 

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12 days

Posted by mike redshaw on October 27, 2013

Only 12 days to go to the great sleepover, when I`ll spend the night outside in a cardboard box to raise money for Burton upon Trent and District, YMCA who work in Burton & surrounding areas to help end homelessness and transform communities so that all young people truly belong, contribute and thrive. What a great aim and its my privilege to become a part of that.

Notice the word “sleep” is used incredibly loosely !!

So the countdown begins ………………….    Hope lit up with candles

Its my desire that through this and through the work of the YMCA we can give hope to more young people. If you feel you can help then please sponsor me through http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MikeRedshaw

 

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Sleepout Extreme 2013

Posted by mike redshaw on October 24, 2013

I`m taking part in the above named event, sleeping out for the night of November 8th in Burton upon Trent (Pirelli Stadium), to raise money for the YMCA in the town.IMG_0557

Cardboard box, sleeping bag, thermal underwear (!), torch and I think I`ll be ready.

What would help and encourage me most would be if people could support me in prayer or in finance (or both !)

If you feel you could support me financially then please sponsor me at www.virginmoneygiving.com/MikeRedshaw

The more money I can raise the easier I`ll sleep, or survive, the night.

Thanks

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Damaged pot

Posted by mike redshaw on October 21, 2013

IMG_0776This is one of my favourite photographs, taken at the Eden Project earlier this year; simple and with a slight touch of colour in the background. I like it.

The pot in itself looks lovely and yet if you study it closely you can see scratch marks on its body, evidence that it has been used and not just left as a decorative piece. Look at the shelf to its right   and you can see a small piece of the pottery which has obviously chipped off from somewhere; the pot is damaged.

So often, life is like that. We are knocked by the things that happen to us; damaged emotionally by things that are said or unsaid with bits chipped off our personalities. At times we are afraid to truly reveal the real person for fear of rejection, abuse, hurt. We find it hard to share doubts about our faith because we might look less than we should be. We are scared of being vulnerable.

And yet it is often in the knocks of life, the hardships we face, the crisis`s we endure that our true character is formed. I know in my own life there have been difficulties and crisis moments; my own health which meant I should have died before hitting my teens, my eldest daughters leg amputation, the passing of my beloved Mum far too early, the deterioration of my health last year and how close   I came to a breakdown leading to the more recent curtailment of my last appointment have all impacted on the way I see the world and how I live it. It’s the same for all of us ~ we are all products of our history and circumstances.

However, the way we then choose to take our circumstances and live from them makes all the difference in the world. I know people who moan constantly on Facebook about this or that (often quite trivial things like the weather) and almost delight in constantly seeking reassurance from others about themselves. I know of one lady who delighted in a miracle which restored her young sons walking but who a couple of years later left the Church because “it was uncaring” when I suspect it was more to do with not being the centre of attention any more.

On the other side of the coin I think of a 90-year-old lady who passed away earlier this year, but for whom her family was her total life. She thought nothing of doing the shopping for them all, of organising a party for her great-grandchildren and at church she loved being able to be the one who would walk down to open it up every week. Olives attitude was one of serving others, despite the many tragedies she had lived through and despite the pain she was often in. Olive faced life full-on and was chipped and hurt in the process.

But look again at the picture and see the colour in the background. I put it to you that despite the knocks and pain, the chips and damage, when we are seeking to serve others we bring colour into their lives. When we fulfil the purpose for which our Lord created us we bring others to life and allow them to blossom and flourish.

After all Jesus was damaged by the abuse, suffered on the cross and died in shame. But out of it all came the Church, the spreading of His word and His love. You and I have the potential to follow His model. We can crumble under life’s weight and bemoan our lot, or we can see the possibility of colour in others, the joy of laughter and fun in the world around us, and the fullness of life that God has given us in Jesus who said “I have come that you may have life and life in all its fullness”

Monday morning ? I`m going to get knocked this week (I know it) but boy, am I going to enjoy my life and do what I can to bring colour into the lives of others, that they may know the love of Jesus.

Come on, join me !

 p1328_20-03-10

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Anti-slavery day

Posted by mike redshaw on October 18, 2013

Today, October 18th, is anti-slavery day but I reckon there wont be many who would know this. I certainly didn`t, had it not been for FaceBook.

So, in order to find out more, I googled and discovered this website, http://www.antislaveryday.com/

Fascinating and informative, I want to know the Churches response-not the national Church who seem to want to speak on every issue known, but the response of the ordinary man or woman in the pew in the face of the statistics and evidence that human trafficking is still flourishing a number of years after we celebrated the anniversary of William Wilberforces anti-slavery laws. The Anti-Slavery Day Bill became law in 2010. It was introduced in Parliament as a Private Members Bill by Anthony Steen MP, for Totnes, South Devon, and passed through both Houses, unopposed although amended. The Bill defined Modern Day Slavery as child trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude and trafficking for sexual exploitation.

United Nations figures suggest that 800,000 people are trafficked annually in one form or another and In the past year, over 200 recently trafficked individuals – men, women and children – have been discovered in London. What is worse is that the Metropolitan Police think this is only a small fraction of the true picture. Those that are trafficked are usually forced into particular areas so that there is sexual exploitation in the pornography industry, forced labour, child exploitation, arranged marriages, removal of rights and so on. I suspect that in our lifetimes we as individuals will have come across some form of human slavery, probably without realising it.

Hidden Slavery poster

So what can we do in the pews ? We must call on our MPs, write, e-mail etc. and ask them to step up Parliamentary dialogue about this; we must raise awareness of this evil, write to our President of Conference or the Archbishop of Canterbury to show our concern; we must be on the lookout for those who seem to be exploited and be prepared to speak out.

God gives a dignity to every human being. Let us not condone those who would seek to take that dignity away.

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Fresh start ??

Posted by mike redshaw on October 17, 2013

It has been pointed out to me that its a while since I last posted anything on this area of the site. That hasn’t been because I`ve lost interest in Fresh Expressions or anything, but it is actually because I`d forgotten I had this category amongst the others on my blog.

I still feel a great passion for Fresh expressions (FX) and am still involved in the MSM course. I`m also involved in the Feast initiative, overseen in this area by the excellent Roger Johnson and Michael Mitton, but often I struggle to give FX the time I would like as I`m caught up in Superintendency of the Circuit. Yesterday I was involved in a discussion about `permission~givers`, those folk in different denominations who can either block or encourage a FX. In many ways I have become such a permission~giver and it is hard and frustrating to adjust to the role, because my heart wants to be in the FX exploring, enabling, encouraging as opposed to simply watching others do it and commending them for it.

Superintendency involves so much administration, supervision and dissemination of information that it saps your energy and creativity. However, having said that the comment I received this morning is maybe a wake up call to quit moaning and make the time to `get on with it` and as such I thank the person for the reminder. I am looking at the possibility of a MSI course in my new area, and exploring opportunities for a Learning Network amongst some expressions that have already begun.

In the meantime can I encourage people who are on FaceBook to find the Fb page for Fresh expressions, another one for the National MSM course and if you`re interested you can keep an eye on our local Nottingham and Derby MSM page so that when we launch the next course, or the MSI course, or vision days there will be info.

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“Getting to know you…….”

Posted by mike redshaw on October 17, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is Mikey, a Romanian dog, described by my friends as short, stubby legs, plump body and as cowardly as can be ! And they named it after me !!

Am I offended ? Not at all as I feel it is quite an affectionate thing to do. Strange thinking you might say, but my reasoning is that Alex and Heather could only take the mickey (!!) out of me because of the friendship that has developed over the years. When I first went to Romania in 2008 the relationship was different; they didn`t know me and didn`t know whether I would take to the living conditions, the language, the family and so on. Alex and Heather didn`t know even how much they could trust me but after a couple of years they were able to banter and tease me to my delight.

That’s the thing about relationships isn’t it ? The deeper a relationship is, the more that people begin to feel comfortable, then the deeper that things of real importance can be shared.

AND yet as Christians we still expect people to walk through our doors without any relationship at all. This morning our window cleaner came without any expectation of anything more than doing his job. I didn`t expect him to walk into the house unannounced and nor did he expect to; however after he had finished we were able to have a few minutes chat about football; the relationship has begun.

But we expect folk to walk into our Churches and sometimes when they do we still don`t attempt to establish any real relationship with them at all. The success of discipleship courses such as Alpha, Essence has been built not on the teaching alone but on the friendships built up over the meal, the discussion and the fellowship. As I get older, and hopefully wiser, I become more and more convinced that evangelism is not going to achieve real success unless there is a relationship involved. The old-fashioned Billy Graham rallies began in relationship as Billy would urge his followers to invite family and friends, people they could relate to, and then he would expect an ongoing relationship after conversion. Why ? Because evangelism isn`t just about numbers, bums on seats mentality; No, it’s about building a community as Jesus first intended. Notice he walked for three years with the same people. Even though he must have been frustrated and disappointed in them at times, he stood by them and gradually began to change them until the time was right for the final disclosure of the Holy Spirit.

Much of the current Fresh Expression movement is about relationships as well. Relationships built in café`s, in messy Church, Forest Church and so on; people coming together, learning together and sharing the Lord Jesus with one another. Trouble is it requires a lot of patience, tolerance, understanding on the part of the Christians who are encouraging others (and also on their part in dealing with us, often !)IMG_0631

So what is the key ? Well, those who know me and have known me for a number of years will already know my answer to this question, because for me the only thing that really forges relationships to a Godly level is when the love of Jesus is present. If we truly love our Lord and Saviour then we must continuously ask the Holy Spirit to nurture our love for other people; we must seek the heart of Jesus in all our relationships, see people as he would see them and love them non-judgementaly but simply as fellow travellers. Jesus may not have liked the lifestyles of people, he may have condemned the sin but he NEVER rejected people (read the scriptures and it was usually the other people turning their back on Jesus that broke the relationship). We too must not be judgemental rejectionists, but need to be people of love and find ways of building relationships with people so that they may come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.

So who are you in relationship with and are there any bridges you need to build in order to show that love ?

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Jamie……..

Posted by mike redshaw on October 12, 2013

Have you heard the story of little Jamie ?

Jamie was auditioning for a part in the school play. His mother told a friend that he’d set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen..

On the day the parts were awarded, She went to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement.. ‘Guess what, Mom,’ he shouted, and then said. ‘I’ve been chosen to clap and cheer.’

What a wise teacher, but what a content child also; there are times in my life, and possibly because of my love of the stage, when I’ve played the “what if” game. You know what I mean……l “what if I’d done this or that then I might have been someone special”: if I was a stronger Minister or a more spiritual person perhaps I might have got the Connexional jobs I applied for and so on it goes the desire to have people looking up at you in the centre of your own world. The view is always better elsewhere when we play the “what if…….” Game

I think we all do it in one form or another. There aren’t that many Jamie’s around, people who are truly content to be in the background. We all crave our moment in the spotlight when everyone says how good we are or we desire to be a leader or a wiser person than we are.

And yet, there will always be the the need for a Jamie, because it is usually those getting on in life, often with the mundane tasks to fulfil, that keep the church, the community and the world moving.

A lady I used to know once took part in the Methodist Covenant service and afterwards shared with me how much she hated the part which prayed ” let me be laid aside for you……” She found those words so hard because her health meant she couldn’t preach any more and she felt she had been laid aside, when she didn’t want to be. We discussed it and agreed a new ministry. Thereafter she became the hub of prayer in that Church. Day after day she’d sit near her telephone waiting for prayer requests to come through. She’d receive them, pray and then send the request to different parts of the organised prayer chain. She wasn’t seen much in that Church any more but had become a central cog in its workings.

Are you content to clap and cheer ? I’m trying my hardest to be.

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Colleagues

Posted by mike redshaw on October 2, 2013

I am truly blessed.  In my former circuit of Borders Mission I had some tremendous colleagues, lay and Ordained, who taught me so much, put up with me and supported me in so many ways. I miss them and our banter, but I am already beginning to find that I`ve got some equally good colleagues here as well.

I have just spent a fascinating hour with Jimi, who works in the Circuit part time and also Pastors the Fijian community in the United Kingdom. Yesterday I was with Gordon discussing the preaching plan, and added to that is the enthusiasm of Susan, the passion of Stella and the gifts of Phil there is all the promise of another exciting staff team. I also spent part of Sunday evening and again this morning in prayer with the clergy of Burton town centre (as I`ve been asked by the Circuit, to “do something in the town“) and it is truly great to see denominational differences cast aside around the love of Jesus holding us together.

Little wonder I count myself blessed.

I think of the famous words of the meta-physical poet, John Donne who said, “No man is an island“. More importantly I think of the words of Jesus who said to Peter “Upon this rock I will build my Church” after renaming him `Cephas`. Often that translation is taken to mean rock or boulder; however I once read that it could be translated as little pebble, speaking of how even the smallest is of use. I like that translation (if its accurate) for it reminds me that even the smallest, seemingly most insignificant person has a part to play in building the Kingdom of Jesus. However, it also reminds me that in order to do so it takes a collection of small stones to build something of worth, hence my love of staff teams.

Why ? Because in good quality teams we look out for each other, keep an eye out for one another, support and encourage those around us and in so doing allow the Lord to use us to inspire others.

We`re in it together, and if we`re to do anything here in Trent and Dove Methodist Circuit or (in my case) specifically the town of Burton, then I need to be a part of the greater number.

Praise the Lord that he didn`t call us to be lone rangers but to live in community, work in partnership and rejoice in fellowship.

But you know it should go beyond simple teams for this is something that should exist in every Church throughout the land; every Church should be a caring community and a powerhouse of love. Within our towns and villages, in our neighbourhoods and in our families it should be the same and Christians following Jesus should be showing the way of love and care. Humanity is in itself a team, Gods team !

Who`re you keeping an eye on ?

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