I met the chaplain...

I met the chaplain...
Do they have God on their side?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Prayer & Fasting Highlights: A Premiership Chaplain, the M4 and man from Bosnia...

I have just returned from 2 days Prayer and Fasting with 100 other church leaders from Commission - part of the Newfrontiers family of churches. It was great. I loved the worship and being refreshed in God. I enjoyed hearing about and praying for churches in the UK, but also in the US, ME, Ghana and Indonesia (in the wake of the tsunami). It was a particularly pleasure to have a leader from Bosnia Herzegovina. We prayed for the Commission churches in Fareham, Torquay, Plymouth, Guildford and London and we prayed north of the M4! We heard from a Premiership football chaplain who is also a church leader. Terrific time. Loved it. Just off to get something to eat...

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Learning from Natalie Williams

I went to a day conference yesterday in Winchester. Natalie Williams was the speaker. She is brilliant. - a former journalist, now church Press Officer who also works for Jubilee+. It was a Media Workshop. Natalie helped us understand the workings of the local newspaper business, how to build good relations with the media, how to write a good press release, how to have a church press calendar, what to do in the event of bad news breaking, media protocol, how to communicate better, how to love your town and what is the main thing your church\organisation wants to communicate and how are you going to do it? Brilliant

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

When a refugee came to stay...

Ali has been living with us for 11 months. He came to the UK, like many others, from a war torn country in an overcrowded boat, across Europe in hazardous fashion and in the back of a vegetable lorry from France. He arrived traumatised and bewildered. He has been to the doctor, the dentist and college to lean English. I have learnt a lot too - about having a refugee to stay; about his homeland; about the complex geo politics of the middle east; about how blessed we are in the UK to have electricity and running water all day long; to have super markets full of produce. I have learnt about Social Services, the Home Office, appearing in court and the good support he has had.
I have learnt how selfish and introspective I am.
He was sent back to his home country last week. It was good to have a refugee come to stay...

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Is it just me, or is there a lot of sex on BBC One?

I was looking forward to Bodyguard on BBC One. Great reviews all round. The first 20 minutes of episode 1 lived up to the hype - great stuff. Shortly into episode 2 however, to two leading players (the Home Sexretary and her bodyguard) were having sex and having sex again. I feel disappointed with another BBC TV series. Night Manager, Flea Bag,V ersailles, Apple Tree Yard now Bodyguard all depicting explicit sex a lot and that is without Wanderlust. I didn't finish watching any of those, now it seems I wont be watching Bodyguard. Is it just me...?

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Mark's Westpoint Highlights

Westpoint is an annual Christian Festival in Exeter for the Commission family of churches, part of Newfrontiers. I have just returned. Here are some of my highlights:
Worship with a 14 piece band including a brass section; good teaching on the Kingdom of God from guest speakers Tope and Dave Devenish; an aeroplane in the auditorium - the biggest prop ever for Guy's closing talk; hanging out with my church family; the Classic Car Show with my son; a £650,000 offering; hearing what God was doing amongst the children; an 11 year old girl teaching the church the flossing dance - hilarious!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Mark's Review of The Meg

I admit it - I went to see The Meg, the latest action movie starring Jason Statham. Several people have asked me what I thought. The Meg is the megaladon, a giant shark which is awakened from the deep. Queue lots of chomping, a cute little girl and a hero who takes it on. There are plenty of edge of your seat shocks, nods to other shark movies (including Finding Nemo!) and some laugh out loud moments. I enjoyed it. There is some mandarin dialogue with sub titles - the film will do well in China. Mostly, the shark CGI is good, except for the shots when the Meg looks like a harmless whale shark. I am not sure if I would pay £14 each to go and see it, but £4 on a Monday, yes.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Mark's Review of the Hillsongs Conference 2018

Hillsongs is a large church in Sydney Australia (40,000). They also have a growing number of churches across the UK and Europe. The Hillsongs Conference took place at the O2 Arena in London this week. It was big (15,000 delegates), colourful, creative and loud. I enjoyed it. A lot. The preaching, the worship, drama, dance, visuals were all very good. I felt old! Hillsongs attracts young people - lots of young people. The main message: Save the Lost, lovingly and enthusiastically.
Favourite moment: man rising out of the sand and hoisted high as Genesis 1 is read.
Favourite preacher: John Grey.
Favourite worship leader: 19 year old woman (powerful statement).
Favourite lyric: Oh La La !
Not my favourite: chest vibrating with the volume.
Most impacted by: Love Jesus and Lovingly tell others about Him.
Favourite line: Make friends with people not like you.
Fashion statement: get a black T-shirt, torn jeans and a new hair cut!

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Working With the Media Part 2

This week I arranged an interview with BBC Radio Berkshire about the Bus of Hope. An article for the Newbury Weekly News next week will feature the same. Last week I arranged an article about honey dripping from the beams at a local Anglican Church. I also arranged a TV programme featuring Tanya Walker for TBNUK; and have begun work on a series of TV programmes for TBNUK from Westpoint - a Christian festival in August. On Tuesday I will apear on Kennet Radio talking about Obstacles to Faith.
It is not difficult to come up with ideas to help your local paper, radio station or TV. Think of a story...

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Mark's book review of 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson.

I liked it. I liked it a lot. 12 Rules For Life is a good, thoughtful read. It is not an easy read - Jordan Peterson is a very clever man who chooses his words carefully. The book and the man have proved controversial, especially amongst feminists and liberals, but I found a lot of good common sense here intellectually reasoned in this "anti-dote for chaos"- love your wife, take responsibility, care for your children, tell the truth, do good and read The Bible. This took me by surprise, but Peterson quotes The Bible in almost every chapter and talks about Jesus as our model a lot. Not to be rushed, but savoured and chewed over, 12 Rules will get you thinking...which I think is what it is meant to do.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Is Football Like Worship?

I go a church where grown men stand and sing together loudly. Sometimes they raise their arms when they sing. Sometimes they clap, cheer or even do a funny little dance. They express strong emotion. Sometimes grown men cry. They pray for Divine intervention. It is passionate. It matters to them.
Does it sound familiar? I have watched football fans from around the world behave in a similar manner during the World Cup. They express themselves. They sing. It matters.
Is there a difference? It all depends on the object of your worship...

Friday, 6 July 2018

What has happened to RE in schools?

I have learnt a lot this week: RE should be taught in schools. It is the law. Schools should have a daily act of worship, largely Christian in nature. That is the law too. I have learnt many schools flaunt the law and do not teach RE or have assemblies. Ofsted dont seem to mind. SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for RE) do a good job in trying to ask questions of schools and bring them to account. SACRE supports schools and RE teachers and this week in Berkshire launched the new Agreed Syllabus for RE 2018-2023. I have learnt there is a national shortage of RE teachers. What a great opportunity...

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Highlights of Toronto

I have just returned from visiting my son and his family in Toronto. It was great. Toronto is big, vibrant, new, clean, beautifully positioned on Lake Ontario and very multicultural - 3 times riding on the bus I was the only white face. The city works hard at gathering ethnic groups for community events. Watching the World Cup outside on giant screens with a thousand other fans was fun; watching the Toronto Blue Jays baseball was great - very different from football in England, no shouting, swearing\abuse, lots of couples and families, a well behaved affair. Toronto has lots of churches. Adam and his family attend Lifehouse Church - a terrific multi-ethnic church https://lifehousechurch.ca 
Toronto is great.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Mark's Review of Global Humility by Andy McCullough

Rarely does a book come along that changes you. Andy McCullough's book Global Humility does that. It changes the way you think about the world; the people's in it; it changes the way you think about yourself in the world and it changes the way you think about the The Bible. The manner in which Andy exposes Eurocentric thinking and attitudes is humbling (maybe even embrassing). The manner in which he opens the readers' eyes to understand more of the context and cuture of Middle Eastern peoples is refreshing and challenging. This book is also scholarly - a weighty 8 page bibliography! I have much to learn.

Friday, 1 June 2018

What is God Like...?

We are starting a new Sunday series at Bridge Church Newbury - What is God Like...?
Each Sunday over the summer a different speaker will present a facet of God's character for us to consider...God is Love...God is Good...God is Father...etc. During the week at Small Groups across Newbury we will then have an opprtunity to discuss what was said on the Sunday - do we agree?...What did we think...Is God really Loving? What about Suffering then...? Good questions to grapple with on a Sunday morning, Wednesday evening or at any time...

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Working with the Media this week

This has been a busy week. Nothing unusual about that. What has been slightly different is working with the Media this week. So far I have: written a piece for Newbury Weekly News, pre-recorded 4 pieces for Kennet Radio Sunday morning show, arranged for a number of TV programmes to be made from Newday 2018 (a youth festival with 7,000 delegates) and Westpoint (A festival with 4,000 delegates) with GODTV and I will be appearing on BBC Radio Berkshire on Sunday morning...