Anti-semitisim (or as it should be more properly referred – ‘Jew Hatred’) is never acceptable….EVER. There cannot be enough voices speaking out against it. I now use mine.
It is very sad that sections of British politics have become increasingly comfortable associating with this evil bigotry. The fact that it is even an issue in 2018 makes a mockery of all the rhetoric about ‘equality’.
The leader of the British Labour Party has a very dubious track record when it comes to where his sympathies lie. One example of this was recently highlighted when he felt it was ok to ‘like’ a painting which peddled conspiratorial clap trap against the Jewish people. Truly astonishing. No-matter where your political leanings reside (whether left or right), this is an issue which rises far above all that. Jew hatred needs to be called out for what it is….vile, hate-filled prejudice. It is wrong as wrong can be.
Relatively recent history teaches us how spine tinglingly wretched anti-Jewishness is. Never forget, six million Jewish people were murdered in the holocaust. Even after 70 years, it still boggles the mind that such an awful atrocity could happen in the heart of Europe. But it happened because a society became comfortable with anti-Jewish sentiment. It was seen as acceptable, and nonsensical conspiracies were believed to be true. That’s why it is imperative for all of us to take a stand against this.
Jewish people will always have a special place in my heart. Jesus himself was a Jew. He loved his people dearly, even when he was misunderstood. The bible also has a deep love for the Jewish people. We are actually encouraged to pray them (Psalm 122:6).
Full respect to those brave people who have spoken of their experiences of hatred. Below is a video by a labour politician who spoke in parliament of her experiences. It is totally worth watching.
Losing perspective on life is an easy mistake that even the best among us can make. There are all kinds of perceptions which can conspire against what’s true, causing us to miss the reality of what is really going on.
A loss of proper perspective usually results in an over-exaggeration of a challenge – or – a failure to recognise the seriousness of the current course. Either can be very dangerous and will eventually lead us to destinations we were never meant to visit. Over the years, I’ve seen people make rash & foolish decisions based on false perspectives. Too many times, those same people ended up living in deep regret because only afterwards did they realise how badly wrong they’d got it. Misunderstanding, insecurity and suspicion all create sinister illusions when the eyes of our heart fail to see God’s grace on the horizon.
So how do you maintain some kind of proper perspective on life, especially in the more challenging times? Here are four thoughts…
1) Watch out for tiredness
Sounds simple, right? But this one is big….REALLY BIG. Not getting enough sleep will cloud your judgment and blur your focus. It is imperative we learn to rest well. The lack of it can be catastrophic, both mentally and physically. Be sure to give this some serious attention.
2) Guard your heart
You are the gate keeper of your heart. No-one else can do this for you. YOU decide what goes in. YOU decide what stays out. So guard it ferociously. Get around those who build your confidence rather than pull it down. A healthy heart will help you maintain a healthy perspective on life. The company you keep is crucial here.
3) Recognise the danger of isolation
Isolation is fake. There, I said it. It makes YOU the centre. It teaches you bad habits. Thing is…the perceived vulnerability of community is nothing compared to the real danger of aloneness. Sure, there are times when you need your own space. But all the time?? No, that’s not healthy. It’s also how you completely lose perspective on life. Don’t cut yourself off from reality. Never good. Ever.
4) Make God’s grace your refuge
Have the courage to believe the best. Then never stop believing it, no-matter what. This is not just about being positive. It’s about seeing God’s grace in every situation. That’s the grace which saved you. It’s also the same grace which others need too. When we learn to extend a little grace, it helps us gain God’s perspective on life. Suddenly, everything makes some kind of sense.
Whatever you do, don’t believe the first thing your emotions tell you. They’re SOOO fickle. God’s word is true. That’s the perspective that really matters.
I’m sure you, like me, have been deeply disturbed by the poisoning incident in Salisbury recently. The method used was a military grade nerve agent – in essence a chemical weapon which could potentially have killed many people. Our thoughts and prayers are for the healing of all those affected, especially a father & daughter who are critically ill in hospital.
The UK government is convinced that the Russian state was behind this serious incident. I trust their judgment. Yet the fact that there are growing numbers of people questioning this conclusion should concern every politician in our nation. A house divided against itself can never stand.
These are serious times which feel very much like a new cold war has descended upon us. What is needed in days like these is…truth. The growing distrust in the integrity of government is devastating to a nation. Any hostile agent can wreak havoc in a culture of deep suspicion. The current British political system with it’s culture of arrogance has done a terrible dis-service to our nation. The Salisbury incident is a serious wake up call. Integrity REALLY matters.
In a sense, the chickens are coming home to roost. The political system in the UK has been in serious trouble for a very long time. I’ve written about this HERE. Recent political campaigns have been filled with lies and ego driven one-upmanship. Take the EU referendum campaign of 2016 for example. The sheer amount of untruthfulness on both sides has had the effect of severely eroding trust. This weakens a nation. It is far more devastating than many politicians seem to grasp. The current situation regarding Russia is a case in point. Just when trust is needed more than ever, this can now be easily undermined.
So how do we, as Christians, respond in times like these? Well, first and foremost, it behoves all of us to live lives of profound integrity. Sounds idealistic, right? But it’s far more gritty than that. It’s about living the truth….even if it hurts. Truth starts with ourselves – not anybody else. In a world of fake news, authenticity is like a refreshing tonic. It’s what builds trust. Furthermore, we do well to remember that the prayers of the righteous are ‘powerful and effective’ (James 5:16). So we pray for our nation and those who lead us. We also call out to God to cause a massive spiritual awakening. I have concluded in my own heart that this is the only answer for a broken society. Our nation needs God’s healing grace like never before. So does our world.
We’re excited about what is happening in the Junction Church. In just five years, the church has grown to become a thriving community made up of over 30 nationalities, dynamic Sunday services in Loughborough & Leicester, and around 20 Life Groups which meet throughout the week.
If you’d like to listen to our most recent Vision Day talk, here it is below. Further down the page are the bullet points of everything it covers. Want to get involved? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VISION DAY UPDATE
Some key developments over the past year
– The Junction Church has grown by over 25%
– New campus in Leicester city centre which is doing really well
– Summer Madness (social action programme)
– First album released
– 350 decisions to follow Christ
– Dozens baptised
– Campus coordinator employed for one day per week
– Church suite (app) launched last January
Some of our key ministries in the Junction Church
– Brotherhood (men’s ministry)
– Sisterhood (woman’s ministry)
– Junction Kids
– MVMNT youth
– Equip (teaching ministry)
– Worship team
– Media Team
– Young Professionals
– Reach Team
– Prayer Team
– Encounter Team
– v3 conference 2017 (11-12 nov)
– christmas 2017 (all Sundays in December)
– easter (Fri 30th March – Sunday 1st April)
– hillsong conference (wed 25th – fri 27th july)
– v3 conference 2018 (sat 10th – sun 11th nov)
Key vision goals for 2018
– grow healthy leaders
– grow healthy life groups
– grow healthy sunday services
– grow healthy community
– grow healthy culture
– grow healthy teams
– grow healthy ministries
– grow healthy resources
– grow healthy campuses
– grow healthy church
Key vision goals over next two years
– employ people to serve in church
– junction church academy (internship) (sept ’19)
– new mid week life group in Nottingham (sept ’18)
– transition Leicester to sunday morning (sept ’19)
– pioneer sunday The Junction Church Nottingham (sept ’19)
Before we planted the Junction Church, I had a dream of a community where incredible musicianship would be provoked and amazing songs would be produced. You see, I seriously reckon that church ought to be the most brilliantly creative community in town. So I guess part of the reason for this blog is to do some provoking!
For me, music is a passion. Growing up in Belfast, I studied classical piano at the school of music. This was one of the greatest institutions in the city, inspiring creativity during the weary days of ‘the troubles’. It wasn’t easy to get into it (which gave it a certain prestige) – and the standard of teaching was absolutely first rate. Whilst there, I went on to develop a keen interest in jazz piano, and that fascination has never gone away. I love music today more than ever. When it’s bad and ill-disciplined, I’m appalled by it. When it’s really good, I SO appreciate it!
Music is an art that stirs the heart, creates moments and gives expression to emotion that goes beyond words. In a sense, it’s a universal language. Imagine your favourite movie without the sound track? Wouldn’t be the same, would it? That’s the power of music – it changes the atmosphere.
In the Psalms, King David encouraged great musicianship. For example, in Psalm 33:3, he says ‘Sing a new song and play skillfully‘. This pretty much sums up my dream for music at the Junction Church.
Here are 10 keys (excuse the pun) for great musicianship:
1) Take interest – this stems from having passion, which is the child of inspiration.
2) Practice much – if this isn’t happening, then the musicianship will never be taken seriously.
3) Be disciplined – learn how to patiently flow with music rather than trying to force it to happen.
4) Listen to the vibe – this is especially important when playing as part of a team. Listening creates great music.
5) Be selfless – the greatest musicians understand the power of subtlety and not drawing attention to themselves.
6) Develop your craft – for music to be performed with skillful ease, it needs to be carefully crafted behind the scenes. That takes W.O.R.K.
7) Challenge yourself – learn to play proficiently in every key, especially the more uncomfortable ones.
8) Be teachable – every musician has something new to learn.
9) Master one instrument – stop trying to be a multi-instrumentalist. Be excellent at one instead of average at many.
10) Do it for God’s glory – let this always motivate the why behind the what.
For years, Christians have talked about ‘revival’. Sermons have been preached on it, books written about it, theologies built upon it, prayers prayed for it and hearts have longed to see it.
The word ‘revival’ is most commonly used to define the idea of a seemingly lifeless Church being revived back to vitality, and the subsequent ushering in of a spiritual awakening in the nation/nations.
Having reflected much on this for quite some time now, I personally find the concept of ‘revival’ biblically questionable and even at times profoundly unhelpful to a healthy understanding of God’s grace. For a start, the word itself does not appear anywhere in the bible. While some might point out that other terms like ‘Trinity’ aren’t mentioned either, the concept of the Trinity is clearly seen throughout scripture – Father, Son and Spirit. But the concept of ‘revival’ is not clear at all. How could it be? After all, the Church had only just been birthed in the New Testament, something which happened after the cross (i.e. the event which changed everything.)
The heart of revivalism is in many ways admirable. It focuses on what we would seem to lack and says ‘We need MORE – more faith, more fire, more blessing, more anointing, more prayer, more deliverance etc etc’. But what often happens in revivalist thinking is that an unhealthy negativism creeps in which has the effect of undermining faith, leading to introspectiveness and insularity. This is because it’s focus is on what we DON’T seem to have rather than what we DO actually have. Often, the result is that layers of guilt are unwittingly piled on revival seekers, with the subtle suggestion that it is their bereftness that is the cause of all spiritual deadness. However, this type of thinking is not only unhelpful – but it leads to an intense form of guilt driven religiosity that feels so condemned that it diminishes the joy of evangelism and loses sight of God’s immeasurable grace.
Perhaps the most quoted bible verse regarding ‘revival’ is 2 Chronicles 7:14. It says ‘If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ However, as with any bible passage, it’s important to clearly understand the context of this statement before jumping to formulaic conclusions about it’s application (something that we Christians can be very good at). It’s wise to bear in mind that 2 Chronicles 7:14 was a specific word to a specific king at a specific time.
While ‘revival’ nobly cries out for more, the shocking truth is that we don’t actually need MORE. As followers of Jesus, we have already been entrusted with MUCH. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that we are ‘blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ‘. Just think about that verse for a moment. How amazing is that? The point is…faith isn’t about sitting around waiting or even praying for the ‘more’ of revival. It is leaning into the ‘much’ of God’s abundant grace, a grace which God has poured out with unrestrained extravagance at the cross. What ‘more’ could we possibly need? This is why Ephesians 2:8 says ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God.’
It’s important to understand that ‘revival’ is not a biblical doctrine. Rather it is a well intended aspiration, but one which struggles with a paradox – one moment, deeply conflicted by a sense of utter inadequacy and the next, desperately striving to earn God’s life-giving power. However, if the former is true then the latter makes no sense whatsoever. What on earth could bereft people possibly offer God? It appears profoundly spiritual but is actually peppered with the dangerous traits of self-righteous religiosity, something that is driven by the idea that our striving can justify us before God. Even the faintest hint of this type of thinking completely misses the point of God’s grace. This is something which can NEVER be earned, only received by faith (see Eph 2:8 again).
The irony is that ‘revival’ thinking can actually distract us from the good that God is doing where you are NOW. This is because of the bias of it’s pre-conceived notions, a way of thinking which limits God and leans in the direction of it’s own negativity, often feeding off it and in a strange way, even gleaning comfort in it too. Faith will never thrive in this kind of environment. Remember, it is faith in His grace that God is really looking for.
No, we don’t need ‘revival’. Jesus himself once said “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead” – (interestingly, this is a reference to the idea of spiritual death). Instead, the faith journey is about constantly leaning into the abundance of God’s grace. What he has given us is huge. When Peter spoke to a man in need of healing in Acts 3, he didn’t focus on what he lacked. Instead he said ‘look at us‘ (three words which challenge pretentious religiosity which is always quick to point out that it’s ‘not about us’). After saying this, Peter proceeded to tell the man ‘What I DO have, I give to you.’ (Acts 3: 4&6). And that’s the point. When all of us catch a revelation of the immensity of what God has already entrusted to us, the world had better watch out.
As a communicator, it took me years to understand that there is no such thing as a monologue. Everything involves dialogue. Anyone who ever delivers any kind of speech would do well to remember this. All public discourse involves the listener engaging in a silent conversation. Yes, they might be hearing a speaker’s words – but there’s a second voice at work too, one that is far more powerful. It’s the voice in their mind. That’s why two people can hear exactly the same talk yet glean completely different messages from it, as if they’ve not even been in the same room. The chatter of ‘self talk’ is far more life impacting than any other conversation we will ever engage in. This conversation is constant in our minds, yet subconscious for the most part.
Interestingly, whilst the average person can verbally communicate 300 words per minute, self talk is estimated to be four times faster at around 1200 words per minute. So that voice in your head is profound, and it REALLY matters. Question is, is the silent conversation healthy?
The thing about self talk is that it is filtered by HOW we think. This has been heavily influenced by our experiences, upbringing, personal bias and environment. If the mind filter is faulty, then the thought process that flows through it becomes flawed. Problem is….most people assume their thought filter is perfectly ‘normal’. But if we’re honest, it’s not.
This is why the Bible has much to say about the ‘renewing’ of the mind. All of us face challenges in our thinking because we are all broken in some way. Let’s face it, nobody is perfect. When our thinking is flawed, this tends to feed unhealthy thought patterns such as paranoia, insecurity and false comparisons. However, Romans 12:2 gives us some invaluable advice. It says ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your MIND. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ In other words, it’s time to challenge the lies of stinking thinking and dare to believe the truth of God’s word.
One of the most important things you can do is to submit your thought life to God. Be sure it is coming under the influence of His word. Give yourself some thinking space and allow God’s truth to overcome the negativity of your own subjective feelings. He loves you. It’s when you really start to believe this that everything changes and your thinking grows healthier.
From the moment we arrived at the Junction Church, we knew we were at home here. ‘Yes, this is what we have been looking for’ was the sentiment of our hearts. Everyone was so genuinely warm and welcoming and it was really refreshing. The pastors and team are outstanding, demonstrating excellence week in week out. The presence of God is tangible. We’ve never encountered His presence like this before. ‘WOW!’ is a word that pretty much sums up our experience.
15 months after beginning the journey, we can honestly say that becoming part of the Junction Church has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made for our family. The people are such a blessing to our lives and we thank God for bringing us here. It has been the start of an amazing journey for the Mitchell family.
The Junction Church vibe is contagious. You leave each week wanting more, and with a hunger to put into practice what we’ve heard. What’s fantastic is that the teaching relates to everyday life. We use it both in our work and home life, helping us develop and become better followers of Jesus.
Our eldest daughter Lily is 5 and is quite quiet. However that hasn’t stopped her embarking on her own journey with God. Lily’s journal and ‘show and tell’ sessions at school are filled with quotes and things she has learnt on Sunday’s at the Junction Church kid’s ministry ‘Thrive’. It’s great to hear how she actively talks about her own experience at the Junction Church to others. This really motivates us that if Lily can do it so effortlessly, then so can we all, whatever age we are.
God has totally transformed our lives and he has used the Junction Church as a huge part of that. We thought life was good beforehand, but now, life is GREAT and our faith has gone to another level. We can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store within the life of the Junction Church. The future is definately looking great!!
If you want to live a life that is unfulfilled and ridden with the fray of disappointment, then spend it trying to prove some kind of point. Problem is, no-matter how passionate you are about your ‘point’, somebody somewhere will always be disappointed in you. You’ll eventually find yourself on the receiving end of frustration’s irk. The ‘point’ then becomes obsessive, […]
Last November, we hosted our first ever Junction Church conference called V3. This stands for: Vision, Vibe & Values. I don’t think I’m being over dramatic when I say it was a massive success. To think we’d never done anything like this before….well, all I can say is that our amazing team smashed it out of […]
Anti-semitisim (or as it should be more properly referred – ‘Jew Hatred’) is never acceptable….EVER. There cannot be enough voices speaking out against it. I now use mine. It is very sad that sections of British politics have become increasingly comfortable associating with this evil bigotry. The fact that it is even an issue in 2018 makes a […]
When I was invited to undertake a three week ministry trip to the USA in October/November 2016, I had no idea that the American election would happen during my stay. It has been truly fascinating being here ‘on the ground’ so to speak – and experiencing the build up to what many are saying is the most shocking upset in US political history.
Interestingly, pretty much from the moment we arrived in New York in late October, I sensed the very same pre-brexit atmosphere that we experienced in the UK last June – with pollsters predicting the status quo position would prevail, a media with a clear ‘for’ and ‘against’ agenda and a LOT of doom and gloom being spread. But behind the headlines, the story was very different.
I talked to one highly educated & successful businessman, a liberal minded non-Christian who had no particular allegiance to any political party. When I asked him which way he’d be voting, he seemed reluctant and embarrassed before finally admitting that he’d be voting for Trump. Asked why, it was clear that he felt this was the ‘lesser of two evils’ and that things needed to change.
In the midst of all the social media bile that is being written about the election (much of it based on hysteria & ignorance), there is a powerful lesson that MUST be learned from both the Brexit and Trump victories. When people are made to feel shamed and embarrassed for holding genuine convictions, then this is the sign of a very sick democracy. Yes, those views might be unedifying and even sometimes offensive. However what tends to happen when people feel they are ignored and held in contempt is that they retreat into an eerie silence, like the calm before the storm. Then they enter the polling booth at election time and their roar of frustration is heard, hence the typhoons of Brexit and now Trump.
Both Trump and Brexit were not particularly votes which were FOR anything. Rather they were protests AGAINST what many people perceive (whether rightly or wrongly) as an elitist political establishment who are aloof from reality, only interested in their own advancement and contemptuous of any view which they might find offensive or politically incorrect. In a sense, we are witnessing a modern day peasants revolt by those who feel left behind. It’s messy. It’s unpleasant. It’s ugly. But we ignore it at our peril.
My very real concern now is that politicians & the media will fail to learn the lessons of both Brexit and Trump. If positions harden and the divisions become even more entrenched, then the grave danger is that politics will grow ever more extreme. Wisdom really does need to prevail otherwise Brexit and Trump could look tame compared to what might potentially come further down the line. I don’t mean this to sound apocalyptic – but it is a very sobering wake up call.
Meanwhile, as believers in Jesus, we need to keep praying, believing and carrying the hope of the Gospel in our everyday lives. The world needs us! I sense a desperation out there that I’ve never seen before in my life time. In the midst of all the chaos in our world, it’s good to know that there is an answer. It doesn’t lie in a political philosophy or a theoretical concept. It’s a person. His name is Jesus. His grace changes everything. This is exactly what our messed up world needs.