CVM International
Talking Head
The Code
Christian Vision For men

Dust

APOLOGY: This blog was originally published with the last line missing … oops, the blogbot must have eaten it! Please read it again and relish the significance of the last few words.


 

Read this:
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul?
Mark, ch 8, v, 36

Recite this out loud:
He swung a weird brass bucket to and fro—
Like a bucket, but not quite.
Something you would never really know
Outside the rather alien rites
And technicalities
Of the undertaker’s trade,
Its equipment and its practicalities
Which, ostrich-like, we prefer to evade.

He must’ve pulled some little trigger-thing
And out there flowed a stream of dust,
Like emptying a Hoover, carpeting
The patch of crematorium that’s just
Reserved for scatterings.
Deftly, he missed his smartly polished shoes.
You might wonder, does it matter if
It’s scattered here or there. Is there anything to lose?

But my mother, then was saying through a screen
Of tears, “Near the flowers, or we won’t remember where.”
And on the grass it settled, grey on green.
Hope softly smothered in a layer of despair.
Unfortunately as the years have gone,
Together with the dust that was my dad,
My mother’s memory’s become
Just a memory. Steadily she’s losing all she had.

It matters less then, if the flowers live or die.
She won’t remember what or where.
And his eighty-seven years of life—
Achievements, friendships, obsessive, crushing cares—
Being pulled down a slope, clawing vainly at the grit,
By the thief who stole his sight, his hearing and his touch,
The disease which took relentlessly, his senses, bit by bit;
Not rich but neither poor—fine, he never asked for much.

Is that it, that really it—
“Over by the flowers so we’ll know another day”,
But she’s forgetting anyway?

But he knew and served The Lord for forty years,
A steel-worker tempered, not destroyed
By alternating, fiery trials and cooling tears,
Then to his carers singing shameless hymns of joy
And amongst his final words, “I’m not afraid”
And then to sleep till clocks forever are re-set.
And then to rise, complete, refined, remade.

That’s it–or, “By the flowers, or we’ll forget”

A Weapon of Peace

A Roman soldier saw a beggar by the roadside on a cold day, the soldier split his cloak in two with his sword, and gave half the cloak to the beggar. The soldier became the first `chaplain` as this was the word for cloak.

Today we have chaplains in the military, in hospitals, in universities, in industry, in sport, in airports and even in shopping malls. There are about 15,000 of them in the UK and most of these are voluntary.

What does a chaplain do? They simply come alongside folk and encourage and befriend them or just be there. No praying or sharing their faith, unless asked, just be there. Many football clubs and companies who have invited chaplains in to mix with their staff have found that attitudes and culture have become more friendly and positive over a period.

I have just completed a short course to be a chaplain in the local racing industry. It was called `Chaplaincy Everywhere`. We can all be chaplains wherever we are.

Attitude Adjustment?

be-the-change

I absolutely love movies, especially action or war movies; my wife on the other hand loves a good chick flick or romantic drama. Talk about living up to the stereotypes! This has led to a few disagreements regarding Saturday night movie viewing, often leading to us comprising and ultimately watching a film we both don’t like. Sounds like the making of another blog.

One of my favourite movie characters is Captain Jack Sparrow from The Pirates Of The Caribbean series. Captain Jack often comes out with some of the most well written and challenging lines that I have heard in any movie. One of the best in all of the ‘Pirates’ movies is one about our attitude.

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem!”

All of us will face problems in life; problems at work, with finances, in our marriage, in our relationships, in fact in almost every area of life. Problems are inevitable; Jesus even warned us in John 16:33 that problems would come.

As the quote from Captain Jack says it is often our attitude about the problem that is actually the problem. Often we ignore the problem and hope it goes away or we take it to the opposite extreme and over analyse the problem, making it so much bigger in our minds than it actually is.

I often meet Christians who seem to be constantly focused on their problems, it’s all they talk about; it seems to be what defines them as people. Often we spend so much time thinking about, talking about or moaning about our problems that we never actually do anything about the problem. Our attitude towards the problem is actually the problem.

When we think back to Jesus’ words in John 16, he is reminding us that in this world we will have problems but he has overcome the world. So let’s take our focus off our problems and onto Jesus and what he has and is doing for us. When we do that the attitude to our problems will change.

As Christians we are called to be different from those around us, if there is no difference, then we have no message. Being different means that our attitude towards problems needs to change. Paul sums it up perfectly in his letter to the Philippians:

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky. Philippians 2:14-15

Image credit: Photo by krüg / CC BY 2.0

Specialist Equipment

Keating-right-fit

Is it just me, or is there particular pleasure to be gained from completing a job with a tool that has been designed and made for that task? I am not talking just about the satisfaction of a job well done, and not talking at all about the temptation to make tool-collecting a hobby in its own right. Contrast the frustration of fighting with the spanner or screwdriver that doesn’t quite fit, and the precision of the perfect match between Allen key and bolt; the saw that makes cutting that particular material in that particular way a pleasure rather than a battle; lightly guiding the SDS drill while it effortlessly powers its way through brickwork which has defeated the combined efforts of my weight and an ordinary masonry drill.

We are, Genesis 1 tells us, created in God’s image. This almighty and all powerful God calls us to follow him and work with him to build his Kingdom. The Bible shows us how he forges and equips his servants to fulfil the specific tasks to which he sets them. Think Joseph, Moses, Daniel and Nehemiah. Think of the apostles; ordinary men who became the instruments through which God’s good news flowed from Judea into the whole world.

Might there be, in our handiwork, a faint echo of the delight which God takes in shaping and using his tools? I wonder how the Master is moulding you to His design, and for what purpose he is patiently perfecting you?

Image credit: Photo by Keating / CC BY 2.0

Are we ready?

Pascal-2015

A few months back I was in the gym trying my best to lift heavy, or not so heavy, weights as the case may be. As I came to the bench press, I had a quick look at the program on my phone, saw that the weight was 40Kg and quickly stuck two 20Kg weights onto the bar. If you are into the gym you will of course realise that the bar itself weighs 20Kg and there I was trying to bench press 60Kg instead of 40Kg. Needless to say, I managed 1 rep before becoming trapped with the bar on my chest……no laughing now!

The gym was empty apart from one other guy, who amidst the laughing, came and rescued me. This incident has sparked the beginning of a friendship and we frequently chat in the gym, all built around this shared experience of me being trapped by my own stupidity.

The other day I was in the gym with a CVM t-shirt on when I bumped into the same guy. After a few minutes chat and another laugh at my incident he asked about my t-shirt and what it was. I explained that I was a Christian and what CVM was and my role with them.

This prompted the response “All the Christians I see on TV are weird but you seem normal!” following this up he explained that by on TV he meant in soaps!

We then proceeded to have a great conversation about how I became a Christian, how Jesus saves and transforms people and finally a discussion around his misconceptions of church. After chatting for around 30 minutes or so, he asked me to bring him some additional information that he could read and of course I have invited him to the men’s ministry stuff at church.

Upon reflection on this it has reinforced in my mind how well the CVM 4 level evangelism strategy works – make some mates, introduce Jesus into the conversation, tell them loads more and finally see them become committed.

Each of us has these opportunities each and everyday and I want to encourage you to seize the moments when they occur. People are genuinely seeking and are open to hearing more. We don’t need to be theological experts either, all of us have a story about how we met and were transformed by Jesus to share.

We are all challenged to be ready to give an answer to those who ask in 1 Peter 3:15

‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’.

 

Image credit: Photo by Pascal / CC BY 2.0

MAKE PEACE – DON’T JUST KEEP IT!

The mantra of a lot of us guys is “anything for a quiet life!” My dad developed the fine art of saying “Yes, dear” to my mother so convincingly that she believed that she had won the argument. Actually dad had simply decided that it was not worth the hassle to continue!

Keeping the peace as a euphemism for “anything for a quiet life” might involve a degree of compromise, of accepting something in which you do not believe because you cannot find the enthusiasm to fight for that in which you do believe. It is also interesting that “peace-keeping” is now associated with military activity the main aim of which is usually to keep rival factions apart.

But Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). The same word is used in Colossians 1:20 – “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

Being a peacemaker is not about a quiet life or simply preventing troublesome situations. It is about seeking to reconcile differences. It is about bringing people together, not keeping them apart. It involves action and sacrifice – Jesus himself made the supreme sacrifice on the cross and he is the Prince of Peace! Our highest aim as ambassadors of his peace is to help people become reconciled to God through personally accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for themselves.

So next time we are tempted to just “KEEP the peace” let’s ask ourselves a question: is there a peace here that needs to be MADE?

Team CVM Blog

Welcome to the new blog from the CVM team, let’s start with a question:

Have you ever been walking along and a complete stranger greets you warmly with a smile and a nod? You may be thinking ‘what does he/she want? Have I got breakfast around my face or in my beard?’ (happens to me regularly). Or you may take the greeting for what it’s worth, feel encouraged and be on your way. The point is, sometimes it’s the really simple things that can make a difference to us.

Take the Bible for example, in particular a book written by a guy called James. He talks about ships being steered by a tiny rudder and a match that can set ablaze a huge amount of trees… or was that the Stereophonics? Anyway, your tongue, proportionally tiny, but very powerful, can build up or bring down. These things are small and simple, yet have huge effects and implications in life.

A few years ago something so simple had a huge impact on my life. I remember a very elderly lady getting up in Church, walking slowly to the front. Lifting her head she stood gazing at the congregation. In silence we waited, watched, but nothing. She just stood there looking out at us. The microphone buzzed and squealed as the sound guy started to panic boosting the audio levels, but she remained calm, still, waiting. What she said was simple, ‘Read your Bible and pray every day if you want to grow’ then she shuffled back to her place, head down and still.

The service moved on and we all went home, but that simple truth stayed with me, why? She hadn’t just invented it; Jesus spoke the message before, that ‘man cannot live by bread alone, but on every single word from God.’ Matthew 4:4

The faith and relationship that we can enjoy with God because of Jesus Christ has to be a life that is fed and cared for. Much like how we care for and feed our physical state, our spiritual one is in need of spiritual food.

Perhaps you have made a commitment to God before and things have gone cold, or the challenges of certain life experiences have caused you to move away.
The message is simple, if you want to grow in your relationship with God, if you want to be the man you know God desires you to be, read His Word (the Bible) and pray each day. This is not a prescription like the doctor will give, this is a living relationship that requires you to respond, to move forward and closer to God, that’s done in reading and praying.

And remember this simple guide, as you open and read God’s word, ask Him, ‘Lord what were you saying then, and what do you want to say to me today?’

No Soft Option

wheat-Pezibear

Jesus said,”Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds.” He said this a few days before he died. Crucifixion was no soft option. Nor does he offer us an easy path.

Jesus challenges us to complete commitment to follow him and serve the poor, the sick, the downtrodden and those in prison. We enter into his family, we do not join a fan club!

Striking A Nerve

Striking A Nerve

What is the one thing about you that is off-limits? Even your closest friends know not to talk to you about this. It’s personal and it’s private and it is not open for discussion.

It’s not that you’re ‘closed off’. Just careful with certain parts of who you are. After all, it is wise to be careful, isn’t it?

One area we tend to cover up contains the things in our lives that we don’t like. Perhaps this is what we call shame. You could be in debt, or you messed up at work, or there’s emotional pain from things long ago that prevent real relationship with those persons involved.

But equally, our hopes and dreams, those that are left, are often cocooned in emotional bubble wrap. We store them like the wedding china, unused for fear of breaking them and not being able to find a replacement.

Like a squirrel buries their nuts before the coming winter, we can bury our deepest thoughts and feelings, and like some of those squirrels, often forget all about them.

We think that they’re safe, deep down, out of the way. We’re unaware though, of how these emotions seep through us, like unsecured toxic waste. We think we’re immune to their presence because they’re buried deep, but every now and again they become exposed.

Sometimes it’s someone else doing the digging. Maybe it’s our wife, or a friend prodding a little too deeply. It’s amazing what people find when they get under the surface (just ask the Crossrail guys who have recently finished the new train tunnels below London).

More often than not however these things are exposed by complete accident. In the fields of Flanders after WWI, the frosty winters were known to bring up unexploded shells to just below the surface. The Belgian farmers knew all-too-well about this annual menace and the problems they posed to their ploughing.

Sometimes it’s a friendly, unassuming conversation that touches something of us we had forgotten about long ago. And sometimes it’s something with a little more bite.

At the beginning of the year Stephen Fry was interviewed on Irish television channel RTE and when asked what he would say to God were he ever to visit the pearly gates of Heaven, he replied vehemently, “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

Of course Fry isn’t the first to voice this age-old problem in such strong terms. But the response seemed unnaturally large. Newspaper articles and blogs were published in reply and the clip from the show went viral on YouTube.

For many people Fry touched on a nerve. His words shattered the flimsy structures constructed around such buried thoughts like, ‘why did I have to experience that horrible thing?’

There are some big questions in this world that aren’t easy to answer. There are also big parts of who are that we’d rather leave unquestioned. But it was Socrates who told us that ‘an unexamined life is not worth living’.

Sometimes the thought of sifting through our inner person feels about as fun as receiving a do-it-yourself-molar-extraction kit for Christmas. Thankfully, we’re not left to our own unskilled hands to do this. In an ancient Hebrew poem a request is made of God: “Search me, O God, and know my heart!”(1)

The God of the universe, who made you and knows you and loves you and has complete skill in all matters, wants to work with you to uncover who you really are. If you let him he will deal with your unexploded ordinance and he will unearth your buried treasures.

God’s love frees us from the fear of tough questions, from the pain of deep memories, and it frees us to be the person he created us to be. Life is too precious to live it in avoidance of who we really are, so why not, as the Good Book says, ‘cast all your anxieties on him.’(2) It’ll be a load off your mind.

Incidentally, if you are interested in the problem of pain, might I recommend ‘Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense’ (Faith Words, 2014) by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale as an excellent starting point on the subject.

1. Psalm 139:23
2. 1 Peter 5:7

Jesus, Adam, You and Me – Interceding for God

Tree-TruthAdam had an assignment from God on the Earth that God had created. His assignment was to ‘rule’ (Gen 1:26) and to rule in God’s name (as God was and is King) but, and it is a significant but, Adam alone was created in his image. Adam was quite a bit like God, not “God” but like Him ie in his likeness. The animals were not like God but Adam was and it was Adam who was given this awesome responsibility- to delegated rule, in God’s place, over the whole created order. When creation looked at, listened to and sensed Adam they were seeing, hearing and sensing God- that is until the fall when Adam fell short of the glory of God. We, however, in covenant with Jesus, in this time, are on the journey of being changed back to God’s image ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Cor 3:18).

This is called sanctification and Paul referred to this “progress” of the faith

Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith’. Philippians 1:25. But back to Adam.

Adam was to be God’s manager or steward, representative, go-between or mediator.

Ps 115:6 ‘The heaven …the eternal holds himself , the earth He has assigned to men’. (Moffat Translation). God did not give away ownership of the earth, God has assigned responsibility to humans.

If you are unfortunate and end up on the wrong side of the law and appear in court you will most likely need the services of a lawyer who will spend much time listening to you and represent your case to a judge. Your lawyer will stand between yourself and the judge , the opposing lawyer and all the evidence being presented against you – the lawyer will mediate- interpose between two parties.

Adam, as we know, was not successful in his assignment and God sent another human the ‘last Adam’ to succeed where the first Adam failed. Christ came to represent God on Earth. He became the mediator or go -between, representing God to humanity. But wasn’t Adam supposed to represent God to creation ? The irony here is that humanity now needed their own intercessor, Jesus, to mediate for them. Jesus mediated God to man and also man to God – this is the priestly ministry of Jesus.

The risen Jesus is now functioning as our advocate interceding on our behalf to the Father. Our relationship with him guarantees our prayers access the Father because they are mediated through Jesus and are therefore in his name. Jesus has gone between ourselves and God and reconciled us to the Father. Jesus has also stood between us and Satan and broken his evil hold on our lives. In these ways Jesus has brought redemption to our lives by breaking the power of Satan and reconciling us to the Father. Jesus the ‘last Adam’, has done it all!

So we, now redeemed, may resume the journey to engage in the original assignment given to the first Adam – to represent God to creation. This assignment has never been revoked – we just needed to be redeemed.

How are we getting on with the ‘progress in the faith’ in representing God to the whole of God’s created order?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Page 1 of 6012345»102030...Last »