Category Archives: Breaking the rules

We need a langauge reboot

I was struck on the way home yesterday that we in the church use very dated language.

I cycled by a church on in South London and they have a huge banner declaring that only by the name of Jesus are we saved – which is indeed true, but to the un-churched around us, that means absolutely nothing.  Saved from what, exactly?

In Jesus’ day, the Jews didn’t have a word for religion as it was an intrinsic part of their life, so they understood concepts of sin, grace, judgement, blessing etc.  They would have understood that to be ‘saved’ is to be rescued from death and judgement – but now we are in a time where people are increasingly spiritual but have no anchor as we live in a pick‘n’mix culture, most people would associate save with either football, money or electronic filing.

And I’m not sure what language we use ;  the weighty concepts of eternal heaven and hell, righteous judgement and grace have become watered down and form part of everyday casual language.

jesus-saves jesus-saves 2 Jesus-Saves-Soccer

I’m stuck and need some help here, any thoughts?


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Differences Betwixt Males and Females – C

I am not an un observant person, and as such, I have noticed a number of differences between the sexes, of course, beyond the obvious.  I am also aware that I may get into trouble, but this is only light-hearted, so let’s see how it goes.

“I see you have a problem, allow me to assist you in resolving it” she said with enthusiasm.

This is a sentence you will neither read nor hear, unless it is total fiction, as the finer gender does not ‘fix’ things.

Instead they talk about such issues that need resolution as a means of resolution. The toolbox of the woman contains sympathy, empathy, compassion, rage, patience and kindness, whereas the toolbox of a man contains good practical advice and a set of screwdrivers. And maybe a bradawl.

Let us fabricate a hypothetical scenario:

A young popinjay bears insult to a lady by refusing her his seat on the train from Paddington to Reading (it could happen)

The female resolution:

The offended would relay every minutiae of the ordeal to her friends and would display such emotions as disgust, violation and rejection by civilized society. There would be lament at the shocking lack of breeding in to days youth, the parents would of course be blamed for employing such a poor quality nurse, and the state of the future would be mourned. There would be a cornucopia of sympathy and possibly the lifting of spirits with some fine chocolat.

The male resolution:

The lady in question would simply be told, “you should have clipped his ear and told him to move his arse.” There would also be lament of lack of breeding and the state of things to come, which is the sole reserve of the older generation throughout all of time.
No less effective and much more to the point.

But permit me to be serious for a moment, and gentlemen listen up, I will reveal a secret to you; for the lady, a large portion of any resolution is talking about it, how it feels etc, and most importantly, knowing she has been heard. The practical nitty gritty is but an afterthought that you can handle with a flourish, if you so desire. This may seem foreign to those for whom action is the only way, but give it a try, you’ll thank me for the results.

And ladies, please bear with us action men, listening is a difficult skill to learn, especially when there is a ‘flat pack’ to put together.


Are there other differences you’ve noticed between the genders?  Let me know and i’ll expound for you and the reading public.

Don’t argue

I’m reading Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson at the moment (expect a review soon), and I’m reading it in conjunction with current religious affairs, i.e. Christians taking cases to the European Court of Human Rights and Muslims reacting with anger and fury over an apparently poorly made film about the Prophet Mohammed and it’s got me thinking, which can be quite dangerous.

The gospel of Christ is a pronouncement of a new order, a new Kingdom, a new way of doing things. Jesus constantly spoke against oppression and false humility and taught that love is the way – a deep genuine love that accepts people for who they are, quickly forgives and seeks to bless others, even, especially, those who show you hate. The writers of the epistles say the same thing, over and over.

The Bible teaches that we are to live in peace with one another as far as it is in our power (Romans 12:18), to seek reconciliation (Matthew 18:21-22), to accept sufferings as part and parcel of being a Christ follower (James 1:2-3) and to do good to others (Hebrews 13:16). In summary “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)

I don’t recall reading anywhere that we should react to oppression with long shouty articles, going to court over religious imagery or name calling anybody who opposes you, in short, we shouldn’t push back as a first response. But I have read several times that we should pray for our persecutor (Matthew 5:44), be quick to forgive (Colossians 3:13), to withhold judgement for God and him only (*), to take persecution as a sign that you are indeed in Christ (2Timothy 3:12) and to accept sufferings as a calling and a part of the character refining process which will manifest itself eventually in blessings and glory (1Peter 3:9, 1Peter 5:9-11).

Jesus said quite clearly “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

The identifiers of people of faith are most commonly external, clothing, symbols etc, but the identifier of the Christian should be love.

We glorify the Father by showing the love of Christ and building the Kingdom, we shouldn’t be reacting when provoked, or acting surprised that people hate us, we should show love in the shape of grace, mercy, forgiveness, acceptance and kindness and we should be praying, for those who hate us and for faith to persevere in the suffering.

That is living the gospel and preaching the Kingdom – true Christianity – and it’s far more effective than anything else we can do.


Note – this is not an ‘anti’ anything/anyone post, but pro gospel.

Same Same but Different

Those of you who are fortunate enough to have been to Thailand, or know of someone who’s been, will be very aware of the catchphrase ‘Same same, but different’  It refers to the counterfeit industry, but is also a profound statement.

I live in a culture that is obsessed with equality.  That is fine, I believe that all people are equal as we are all made in Gods image, but where culture is going wrong is that it is trying to apply sameness where the Bible tells us that while we are equal, we have differences.

To keep things current, take gay marriage.  The government is currently looking at ways to redefine the legal boundaries of marriage so that couples of the same gender can also be called legally married.  Homosexual relationships are different to heterosexual relationships, so should they be treated the same? (I’ve expressed my views here, so if you want to address that, please do so with that post)

Take another example.  The NSS recently wrote to the Scouts complaining that because you have to profess a faith that it is excluding those who don’t believe.  The Scouts say that it is open to people of all faiths/races/cultures.  The NSS want an option for those with no faith.  What they are saying is that it isn’t equally inclusive, therefore it is unfair.

Even the Gospel has the juxtaposition of inclusiveness v exclusiveness.  Jesus said that all are welcome into Heaven (inclusive), but to get there you have to go through him (exclusive)

I’m all for equality – don’t read me wrong, but we do need boundaries and rules for inclusion, otherwise, like my favourite mug says, you will be unique, just like everyone else.

To be a premiership footballer you have to possess extraordinary skill on the pitch, to be a politician you have to be elected and ideally of upstanding character, to get into university you have to have good grades and can prove you’ll work hard.  Do these rules for inclusion make it unfair for those who don’t play football or wear a drab suit or go to uni?  No, they are there because a minimum requirement is essential for the individual and the organisation, to maintian a standard.  It is totally fair.

If secularists had it their way, there would be total equality in all things, and to take it to it’s logical conclusion, we’d all be totally equal with no allowances for our differences, we’d be one step closer to being Cybermen – all the same with no personality, no discernable differences, no longer unique. Celebrity culture would disappear (not necessarily a bad thing), no award ceremonies, no recognition of special achievement or difference at all.  No Olympics, no Oscars, no exams, just blanket equality.  Fun times.

But the reality is that we are different, yet we are also equal.  And we know that deep in our heart.  A great racing driver isn’t better than a master carpenter.  A CEO isn’t better than a housewife.  The Prime Minister isn’t better than a road sweeper.  They are all different.  Equal and different.  And this is fair.

One example that I know of personally of equality being taken too far is one friend (white) saying to another (black), “I don’t see you as black, I just see you as Harry*” meaning that the difference of race wasn’t a boundary to her, to the point that she didn’t see his race anymore. He remarked that while he understood the sentiment, he was still black.  It is part of his identity, his race informs his cultural heritage and views on certain things.  They are equal, but different.

By all means promote equality, but having rules and boundaries is good, good for a safe and happy society and good for self worth and identity.

The sooner that westerrn culture can accept that we are different, and that it is okay to be different, the sooner that true equality will come.  Some people are fast runners, some excel at maths, others are very nimble of finger with crafts or can write beutiful poetry as to make even the hardest heart cry.

All are different.

All are equal.

This is okay.

What do you think? Have I got it wrong?

*name changed for my protection