Shrove Tuesday – Giving Up the Phone for Lent.

For the period of Lent I’ve decided to give myself space away from social media and excessive mobile phone usage. I recorded a short video below to outline why I fancy giving this a try, a few thoughts, and some of the rules I’ve put in place.

The Five Rules I’m putting in place are:

1. No Social Media | 2. No Text Messaging | 3. Limited Phone calls. | 4. No Internet Mobile Device Usage. | 5. I’m allowed emails (on my laptop only).

Hang on a minute! You are using social media! I found this link on facebook and twitter!” – I know, I’ve automatically set this blog post to send to twitter and facebook, but don’t worry I won’t be checking it.

Anyway, do post some comments on here or on the youtube account. Let’s get a conversation going.

A (mildly less) Mindless Monday – Car Ramblings

In a couple of days time Lent begins. The 40 day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday where we prepare. Prepare our souls, spend time in reflection, prayer, thought and a whole bunch of other things. Traditionally at Lent, followers of Jesus use this time as a time of sacrifice of things that may take up energy in their lives, in order to focus on what is important. It’s been a whole heap of years since I’ve particularly done anything for Lent, but no time like the presence to try something out again.

The other day in the car I had an idea, and I might incorporate this blog and my hobby of playing around with a camera as part of it. Let me know what you think, good idea? yey? ney?

Mindless Mondays – The Baking King

It’s been a while since our last Mindless Mondays. I decided one Saturday morning to bake some Apple Danish Pastries, and was playing about with the camera so captured it! I know this didn’t happen on a Monday (therefore can it count as a ‘mindless Monday’ video?!), but you can watch it on a Monday and I’m posting it on a Monday, and so hopefully you’ll have some enjoyment from my rather mediocre baking skills.

Take me to the Bake Off!

 

10 Things I Know Nothing About

I’ve been married for a mere 3 years, and since then have been a key figure in a house- as in, being one of the the responsible ones. There is something I didn’t realise however when I got married. And I need you all to know this if you are getting married, or taking on being responsible in a house.

Signing my marriage certificate was also signing an invisible contract saying that I should also know about all things DIY.

The same goes for any contract of house ownership that you sign.

But the problem is, I don’t know all things DIY. Infact, I know basically nothing. And I mean nothing. Things show up or happen in my house that I literally have no idea what to do with. I’d like to show you some photos of various things I’ve encountered in my house and have no idea what they are, or how to deal with them. I’d like to make a guess to say that most of us are in the same boat as me, whether married or single or whatever. If you live in a house and take some kind of responsibility in making sure it stays upright then you will relate to this. If you are not in this position, then please take this as a word of friendly warning from me, watch out for the following things:

1. Cracks. Are they dangerous? Will my ceiling collapse? I know I can’t ask a plumber about them, but who do I ask?! A crack man? Sounds like something to do with narcotics rather than an expert telling me if the house will fall down or not.

2. Wet patches on the ceiling. OK I kinda had to figure this one out quick before the house collapsed, but it took me a while, and weeks layer I’m just hoping it’s sorted itself out.

3. Mould. When our bread gets mouldy I just chuck it out. I can’t do that with a corner of a room. So I’m stuck.

4. Random Indoors Condensation. Do we need more heat in the house? Or less? Or thicker curtains? Or has somebody been chucking water around our house in the middle of the night while we sleep?

5. Bleeding Radiators. That’s an action to do, as well as what I say when they make weird noises. But this task does sound incredibly manly, if only I knew how to do it effectively, and the reason for doing it.

6. Doors that don’t open. Do you scrape away the ‘extra’ wood? Or Barge it open everytime you use it? Last year I broke open our front door with my shoulder and smashed the lock up. Not so great when you’re hoping for a secure house. Oops.

Until I get techy enough to know how to embed vines – click here to see this in action in my life:
7. This Thing. I have no idea what it is, but life is continuing whilst it’s around, so it must have some kind of purpose?!

8. Random Cables & plugs. So many wires. So much fear to throw any of them away. They’ll be useful one day. Maybe.

9. That On/Off Switch. We’ve all got one in our houses, hidden away in the darkness of a mysterious cupboard. But what does it do? It has something to do with electrics I know that. Will the house blow up if I flick it? This looks as simple as a child’s toy, but will be as destructive as a petrol bomb if used incorrectly.

10. Fear-Inducing Plastic ‘Bits’. I have this extra plastic bit after a kitchen appliance was installed. The installer said nothing about it. I’d better keep it just in case. **Proceed to stick it in a drawer for 20 years holding an irrational fear of throwing it away.**

Oh DIY, how I loathe thee, but you are cheaper than those people who come round and sort stuff out in 5 minutes yet charge £80 for the privilege.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

My favourite part of 2014.

The first blog post of the year should probably be about something that I’d like to happen this coming year, some hopes and dreams etc. However, I wanted to finally post about one of my favourite moments of last year before getting onto new things.

Back in September I turned 30, and one of the ways Heather and I celebrated was with a trip around Italy. We had a wonderful 10 days travelling across the country, visiting various bits and pieces, sites and cities of the place. I was only told about the trip about 2 weeks before we left, so it was such an awesome surprise, and we had such an excellent time together.

Since then I’ve been meaning to put together a video of the stuff we saw and experienced, and over the Christmas break I’ve had an opportunity to get it finished. It’s mainly for Heather and I’s enjoyment as we look back at our holiday, but I figured you may fancy having a watch too. Think of it like a far quicker and less boring way to be subjected to your friend’s photos from a holiday 😉

Please excuse the mildly dodgy sound and video quality (I’m no professional!), but I’m sure you get the idea.

#tbt 10 – Dying to the wrong things.

It’s another #tbt, looking back at aspects of the story of Jesus’ Church. Finding out a few interesting bits and pieces, and seeing what we can learn for us today.

Last week I told you about Ignatious. He wrote loads of letters in his time (being the worst ever letter writer/text replier/responder to calls ever, I’m desperately put to shame by Ignatious’ trigger/pen-happy fingers), but a specific one was to a church in Smyrna. Take a look at the map, Smyrna doesn’t exist anymore, but it was located in Turkey. The bishop at the time was a guy called Polycarp. Now, when it comes to standing up for your faith, this guy was the real deal.photo

At a time when the Roman Emperor was considered a god in the 2nd century, people were forced to worship them, burn incense for them, and reject any other god-like figures (particularly Jesus), being a Christian wasn’t easy. For those that refused to do this, they would be killed. Polycarp was a refuser. As he was reportedly dragged before the crowds, before he was martyred he declared

86 years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong.

How can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?

Now there is somebody’s hand I want to shake.

After he was martyred by being burned at the stake, many Christians would come to remember, and celebrate this amazing example of what it was to following and give it all up for Jesus.

However, unfortunately people took it too far. Martyrdom became somewhat ‘fashion’. I don’t say this lightly or want to seem crude, but many Christians began to freely hand themselves over to the authorities in order to be martyred. It became the greatest thing one could do in order to be like Jesus, as that is what he did. Leaders had to begin to share direction and correction with Christians, that they shouldn’t die to the wrong things. The Bible does say that we are called  to ‘die to ourselves‘, but we need not die to the wrong things. At the time of the ‘wannabe martyrs’ (greatly named by Nick Page in this great book), it was written by a Christian leader that “we do not approve of men offering themselves spontaneously.“. Needlessly and willingly giving your life away to be martyred was not was God had in mind.

I wonder if we die to the wrong things today? Most of us in the Western world today don’t find ourselves in a position where being martyred is a reality we need to face, and therefore the idea of us willingly and eagerly putting ourselves in a place to be martyred is even more distant. But how many of us become martyrs in different ways? I wonder if you take on burdens you need not carry? Behaviours, lifestyle choices, attitudes that we simply don’t need to hold onto. How many of us have misinterpreted things  or are going the wrong end of the ‘die-to-yourself’ stick? I know God often needs to remind us of a few things he does not want us to die to:

  • Loving and serving my family.
  • Fun and enjoyment.
  • Sleep and rest.
  • The health of our soul in preference over our ‘doing’ for God.

What other things is God speaking to you about NOT dying to? Sure, we do need to die to some things, but lets not become martyrs in the wrong way, and avoid the full life that God would love us to have.

#tbt 9 – What is Jesus really like?

Firstly – it’s so important that right now you click this >>>>link<<<<<. If you do that you’ll be whisked away from here to some absolutely wonderful, inspiring and loving words written by my wife Heather. the great news is that she is beginning to write some more bits and pieces and I need you to know that it’s definitely worth reading and following what she writes. So go and click that link, right now. You can come back to this later.

Stirred by her blog movements and my own procrastinating desires, I thought I’d pick  up the ‘Throwback Thursdays’ again. This is a Thursday post which I take a little look back at the Story of the Christians, from the early times when the Church first started through to current days, to see what we can learn from the good bits and not so great bits! Hopefully we’ll learn something new along the way. I’ve heard some great feedback and had some interesting thoughts regarding some of the #tbt posts, I’m glad it may be causing some thoughts and conversations, feel free to drop me a message or comment if you want to continue the conversation. Anyway, I’ll crack on from where I left off last time and lets see how we get on.

48.2086.7Today I’d like to introduce you to somebody new. A man known as ‘Ignatious’. With his name sounding like a volcano, I guess you could say that some of the things this Bishop of Antioch in the early 2nd century wrote was rather ‘eruptive’. I’d personally say positively and negatively (just to point out, I’m sure most of us put out there a mixture of positive and negative things, we’re all a working progress!). Actually, we already met him in the previous post on ‘the whole church’, as it was this guy that first used the original term for ‘Catholic’ when speaking about the church. However, today I’d like to look a little more at what Ignatious wrote. Particularly one letter he wrote to a church in a place called Smyrna, which is located in modern day Turkey. In it he talks about a bunch of stuff, but I’d love to point towards something particular he referred to.

In his letter, Ignatious referred to something called ‘docetism’ (say it ‘dough-seet-izm‘ if you’re wanting to slip it into a chat with mates to sound intelligent). It comes from the word that translates today to ‘it seems‘, ‘it’s similar to‘ or ‘it’s like‘. Those who would align with docetist beliefs in Christianity were saying and believing that Jesus ‘seemed’ like a man when he was on Earth, but wasn’t really. They considered Jesus more of a spirit-like figure, not fully embracing all the complexities and limits of us humans. They felt that as God is so good and perfect, there is no way that He would come to Earth and embrace the imperfect bodies that we have. Ignatious did a great job in his letter to explain the realities of Jesus. That he was a man, who had a real body, who truly suffered, who truly died, and truly resurrected, and after the resurrection had a real physical body, eating and drinking with his buddies. He made it clear that this wasn’t some fable, Jesus wasn’t a mystical, ghost like person. He is real.

Docetism was an early form of what became known as ‘Gnosticism’, of which over the years tons of groups branched from it, but fundamentally carry some conflicting messages to what the Gospel actually says about me, you, the way we interact, and who Jesus is. They reduced him down to something less than he truly is which suited their beliefs and ideals but ultimately doesn’t follow what the Bible says.

This got me thinking, where in my life have I done that? Made Jesus into some mythical, distant, unrealistic type figure rather than the true, powerful, life transforming, compassionate Saviour that He is? I’m definitely not a ‘Docestist’ and wouldn’t stand by their beliefs of Jesus’ humanity, but I’m sure there have been times in my life where my attitudes, choices and behaviour may resemble a docetist. Thinking and treating Jesus less than He is. Ouch. That one hurt when I began to answer that.

I know there have been times in my life where I think of Jesus’ humanity so distant to mine. I’ve thought that He couldn’t possibly understand the depth of human experience that I go through. The ups, the downs, the joys, the pains, the sadness, the fun, the laughter, the sense of loss, and the sense of ‘new’ things. The last couple of years I’ve had the joy of starting new projects in church and ministry, and there have been the great fun moments of adventure that I adore, as well as the times of pain, difficulties, trials, and disappointments that I’ve faced. And the ‘ouch’ comes when I realise that in some of those times, I didn’t look to the one who’s been through the ultimate physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Instead I looked to myself as if I’d be the answer to my own problems. Good one Benji.

However when I pull my head out of hiding and begin to glimpse at the truth, I see so much more of His goodness. All He’s experienced and been through for me. Realising that He does relate to me. My minor setbacks in life fade in comparison to the immense and intense experience he faced 2000 years ago. And as he has experienced it, he has the empathy, encouragement and advice for me that beats my own (and everybody else’s) hands down. He is real. He went through full humanity for me. He understands. He knows what’s going on. He is big enough to cope with it. So approach him today, with what you’re heading towards, what you’re struggling with, what you need help with. He’s not just mildly interested, he is deeply passionate to show his love to you and help you through.

How about you?Ever looked upon Jesus as something less than He truly is? Ready for an ‘ouch’ moment?

10 Things I Learned in my 20s.

All has been quiet on the blog front the last couple of weeks – for a whole bunch of reasons. One of which being that I turned 30 and had some birthday celebrations! Despite joking around about growing old, needing a hip replacement soon, lacking any ability to use technology all of a sudden and other ‘old man’ banter – I’m actually feeling fine about this age. Infact, there are lots of things I hear from those far older and wiser than I who have shared great things about this coming decade in my life.

I’ve been pondering over the last few weeks some of the things I’ve been learning in the last decade just gone. I thought I would put them into a post on here, maybe it’s helpful for anyone in a similar position to me age-wise, or maybe you are in you are younger and just simply fancy some advice from somebody who is a little closer to the point in life where Antique programmes are vaguely interesting (just FYI, I’m not at that point yet!).

1. I really don’t know anything. I used to think that I know everything about everything. Then I came to a point where I thought “OK, I might not know everything but I’ll get there soon”. I’m now in a season where I’m comfortable not knowing everything, and in fact I tend to come at things in life with a sense of ‘I have no idea about this’, with a hope that I’ll learn something, but also I’m now fine to ask for help – most of the time 😉 The quicker we come to the point of realising that we don’t know everything, the better.

2. Qualifications are not everything. Now, hear me on this. Education is great. It’s important too. Work hard to get the grades you need in order to have a great chance to succeed in the area of life you’re pursuing or hope to pursue. We are so privileged to have the opportunity to learn so don’t waste it. But don’t base your life on it. Don’t let your identity as a person be based on your qualifications (or lack of). Most people I know don’t work in the area that they studied in at university, and loads of people I know who didnt get the grades they wanted on exam results day are actually doing fine! Also, the kinds of people who do like to go on about their qualifications – are usually a bit annoying actually.

3. Enjoy your free time. As time goes on you get less of it. Infact, your time becomes ‘communal’, shared by other important people in your life. This isn’t a bad thing, but its something to be aware of. Make sure when you get some free time, you are making the most of it.

4. God’s will is a field, not a tightrope. Too many people are deeply stressed and anxious about their calling from God. What does the future hold for me? What direction should I go in life? Sure, these are big decisions, but don’t think God’s will is some thin, difficult tightrope to walk along – that any sway to the left or the right or one wrong step here or there means total disaster and ‘game over’ in your life. God’s will is more like a field – there are very general boundaries that you can see in the distance, but there are so many directions to run in and so much space to play, try things out and enjoy. You may have a variety of choices, and the truth is God never leaves us, he’ll be with you no matter what you choose! So go have and a skip around in the field.

5. Be good. It makes life so much easier. Apparently when I was younger before school age, I made a decision and shared with my family that I was going to be good. When asked why, I told my parents and sister that ‘its easier to be good and saves so much hassle’ (paraphrased by the 30 year old me). I stick by that today. I’m not talking about staying silent when you disagree with something (although I can still be guilty of that sometimes), but I do see the importance in bringing goodness to other people, and situations. There are enough people in this world who like to stir up trouble and bring disunity amongst groups. Be somene who brings goodness and peace to others around you. One of my favourite verses is 2 Timothy 2:23 where it says “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” Sometimes the Bible says stuff so simply and clearly eh?

6. Don’t lose your imagination. It’s not considered normal for an adult to have an imagination.But its using our imagination that we can see things that don;t exist yet. The dreams and goals for your life, the ideas and inventions you would like to create. The places you would like to visit, the type of person you would like to be. Using our imagination is key to getting off the starting blocks to pursue what we hope for in our lives. Lets not mock imagination as something to grow out of! I once wrote about the importance of our imaginations here.

7. Enjoy the fun things, allow yourself to the excited about things. Don’t become boring. Many people live as if life is really tough, with the occasional fun moment thrown in. I seek to live like life is full of fun moments, with some moments thrown in there. One of the first things I did after turning 30 is go to a theme park and screamy my head off for the day. Proof of that is here.

8. People will do anything for you if you just love them. That isnt the reason to love people, but I notice that lots of people want things from others without loving them and they simply dont end up gathering people. Want to gather people for a mission? Simply love them first, and the mission will get done together. Treat people well and they will treat you well. If you can help other’s get what they want, they’ll be happy to help you get what you want. What we all tend to want is something relational anyway. We want friendship, unity, support, encouragement, guidance, prayer, teamwork. All relational things. Be relational, love people.

9. Fight the right battles. Some things are worth fighting for. Pour your energy into those things. Dont give your fighting, persuasion, and debating energies to things that ultimately aren’t that importnat in the first place. I’m still learning this one, but when you come against something or somebody you disagree with, people steaming in to change the situation take a step back, have a think: “Is this a battle worth fighting for?”. Try to see the bigger picture and decide if you ar egoing to fight for it or not. Want to know what I’ve noticed? 8 out of 10 annoyances aren’t worth fighting for in my opinion. That’s a huge amount of energy saved for a 2 out of 10 times a real battle comes along!

10. If you have a dream, do something about it. We’ve got plenty of dreamers, what we need are ‘Activist Dreamers’. People who want to do, see, achieve, become something, and then do everything they can to pursue it. I’ll never forget a time when I spoke with somebody about their dreams. They wanted to lead worship at their church. I had known this person for a reasonable amount of time, and the thought popped in my head that I had never seen them involved in anything musical at any church event before. After asking if they were involved in the worship team they told me they weren’t(!). I left that conversation totally confused – if we have dreams in our hearts, then DO SOMETHING about them. To pursure my dreams I’ve had to make some steps, some small steps, some massive leaps. but I always have the thinking of doing something.

If you had to do a similar post of lessons from your life, what would you include? I’d be fascinated to hear them so feel free to leave a comment below with your lists!

 

Who says a grown-man can’t scream?

I’ve entered a new decade of life recently (wow, that made it seem far more dramatic than it actually is…). In some conversations with Heather, I mentioned how I still love theme parks, rollercoasters, rides, adrenaline rushes etc. And so, recently I ended up going on a trip to Thorpe Park, which is full of ’em!

I thought for some fun I’d try to film some of the rides, and it wasn’t until I sat down to look at the videos that I realised how loud I tend to be on these rides. But ah well, why not let the world see 🙂

Who says a grown man can’t \\ shouldn’t \\ doesn’t \\ won’t scream?!

That was a good day.

Mindless Monday – 3rd Wedding Anniversary

Mindless Mondays – because we all need times in our lives for relaxing, and having little responsibilities. 

This last week Heather and I took a few days off work to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary. As well as having a great day refreshing at a local spa wandering around in dressing gowns and flip-flops, we ‘pottered’ around the house getting various DIY projects done.

With less than a week to go before I enter into a new decade of life – I’m realising that what once may have bored me to death, now excites me. Hence, some garden-shed rennovation.

Check out the video to see more.

I’m enjoying having a play around with cameras and editing software at the moment, hence these videos. Bear with me as I actually seek to improve the quality/content in these(!).