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God

No More Connie Kicks

By Ethical Living, God No Comments

I really really love Converse! I remember as a kid thinking that they were the coolest trainers ever and I really wanted a pair but my parents couldn’t afford them which was heart breaking! I tried to persuade them that I didn’t need to eat for a couple of weeks but it didn’t stick.

Now I’m a proper grown up I can afford them and for the past decade or so I’ve been donning my connie kicks with pride and replacing them in an unending cycle of shoemanship!

More recently Converse have started offering the ability to customize your shoes by letting you design your own which is awesome! I designed the spinning bad boys below bringing a theme of my heritage but sadly I will never buy them.This pains me greatly as I really really really want them – Look at them – they’re so full of awesome it’s silly but I just cant bring myself to buy trainers from them until they sort some stuff out.

You see Converse have a pretty bad ethical score card. The Ethical Consumer website only gives Converse a measly 6.5 out of 20 including 3 big counts against them involving abuse of workers rights. This is not cool!

So how do we live ethically but maintain our sense of super cool?

I did some research and found a few companies that sell canvas style trainers that are very similar to Converse but have a much better ethical rating and we settled on The Fair Corp. They have a really great selection and have a massive score of 17! Both my wife and I needed new trainers so we ordered a pair of black low tops for her and pa pair of green high tops for me!ad

When they arrived I tweeted about their arrival and got a nice tweet of appreciation in return (great customer service that):

Woop woop our trainers came from @ETHLETICshoes http://ow.ly/i/Lp46  #EthicalLiving

We were a little nervous about getting them as we didn’t quite know if they’d be as good because in the past ethical companies have had a rep of producing below par quality products but these have been amazing! We were initially very impressed and I’ve been continuously impressed with them since.

Oaktree 24/7 Prayer Room

By God, Photos, Video 2 Comments

During Holy Week Oaktree got together with the Antioch community and the Acton Vale Missional Community to take part in 24/7Prayer.

It was a brilliant week and I was involved with the all-night youth session on the first night which was epic in itself. Every time we do this I love watching how the room evolves and seemingly comes alive with the prayers of so may decorating the walls.

Ruth and I had a slot from 2 till 5 am on the Saturday morning which was really amazing. It was great to have time with little distraction to engage with God. I shot some stills and some footage to try and capture the spirit of the room or the feeling of the room.

Our brilliant children’s worker Thalie has also made a video made from the stills she took during the setup of the room and the week itself.

Faith, Loss & Due Dates

By Arg, Family, God 16 Comments

Today is quite significant because it hurts… Today was the due date of our baby who we lost during the summer.

There are lots of emotions whirling around my head today and there is a knot in my stomach that is seemingly tightening as we go through the day. It’s as if by the end of the day something is going to happen… but then tragically I’m reminded that it’s not.

Remembering

The day we learnt our baby had died is on repeat in my head this morning. It was the day of our first scan. I’m remembering the concerns because of the previous night’s scare. I remember the nervous excitement. I remember praying before we went in. I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to meet him (we always thought our baby was a boy). I remember trying to figure out how the photo machine worked. I remember walking in with Ruth clutching my hand tightly. I remember the Sonographer greeting us, putting us at ease and noticing that we were a couple who seemed very much in love with each other. I remember her starting out, applying the gel to my wife’s stomach and running the gizmo over it and then her expression changed. She was very good, she was excellent in fact. You would hardly have noticed that tiny subtle change in her expression that I can’t even describe, but it was there. It was that moment when my heart began to beat harder. Then I remember the utter horrific, memory of seeing the empty void on the screen of where our little baby was supposed to be. It didn’t look right. I’d seen enough ultrasound pics to know that it wasn’t supposed to be just black. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew something was dreadfully wrong. Then I remember that realization creeping through me like a massive icicle penetrating my body to the very core of my soul. I remember realising before the sonographer said anything that our baby wasn’t alive…

. . . n u m b . . .

She told us she needed to check a few things and not to worry just yet. I remember looking at Ruth and seeing the confusion spreading across her face, I remember seeing the calm before the storm of turmoil begin to brew in her face. The anxiousness, worry and for her too, the initial numbness. I remember that I began to pray. It felt like a hopeless desperate prayer ; “Please God, Please God, Please God……”

. . . n u m b . . .

I remember Ruth getting dressed and us getting our things with the shock flooding through me like some sort of emotional paralysis. I remember walking through the reception. I remember being given the refund for the photos as if this was some pathetic kind of consolation prize. I remember sitting on a bench outside the hospital not speaking for a while. I remember having to make those first few calls to the friends and family who knew we were expecting. I remember driving home feeling cold and completely devastated. I remember sitting on the sofa at home with my wife sobbing so hard that her sobs shook the whole sofa. I remember feeling so completely lost, empty and in disbelief.

. . . n u m b . . .

I wanted to scream in anger, I wanted a hole to open up and swallow me in to nothingness, I wanted to run away, to cry, to shout, to hold on to Ruth with all my might. I wanted to stop time, I wanted to go back in time and fix it, I wanted God to stop this, I wanted to punch Him in the face for letting it happen….

. . . n u m b . . . I was so so so angry with Him. And yet, I prayed.

I prayed for His protection on my wife, on our marriage, on the two of us as we came to terms with it all. I prayed that He would ease the pain, that we would know His love and that He would take care of us. I knew that the following months would be full of pain and angst and I asked Him to help me deal with it all. All I could do was pray – there was nothing else left to do.

Reconciling this pain with my faith

This whole thing has been a really painful process and its been difficult to figure out how to reconcile the pain with my faith but it hasn’t been as hard as some might think. The only thing I could do to keep a hold of my sanity was to hold on to God and my faith in him. The song below was a major anthem during the last 6 months and it still has such a powerful message.

I need to make one thing very VERY clear:

God does not give us suffering

I cannot believe that God would put us in a situation of suffering on purpose. God does not give people diseases and he DOES NOT KILL BABIES! I cannot believe that he does any of these things as it goes against what we are taught about him in the New Testament so much. I believe he allows bad things to happen because in order for us to have free-will there will be consequences and in a world where people make selfish choices that ultimately lead to heinous actions it is in this world that we live and operate. Sometimes he does intervene and that is where the debate really is – Why does he sometimes intervene and other times not? I’ve asked myself this a thousand times and I’ve asked Him a thousand times and I think I will do so for the rest of my days. As long as I live on this earth I don’t expect to fully understand why he let our baby die.

What I do know is this: We have a very big God. We have an amazing God! We have a sovereign and gracious God without whom this whole experience would have been unbearable. It is with great Thanks to him that I, for the briefest of moments, have been a Dad. I never got to hold or touch or even see our baby but for the brief time that Ruth was pregnant, I was a Dad and that makes me so incredibly happy! I feel so privileged to have experienced it so briefly knowing that so many people will never have that experience. I feel privileged because I know that we may never have another pregnancy because we took a long time to get pregnant and so for us, our little baby was a precious miracle, but we still have hope that we will get pregnant again and soon. It doesn’t mean that this doesn’t still hurt. I miss our little baby. I wish we had a little bag in the car packed with all the hospital stuff ready to go. I wish I was helping Ruth up off the sofa each day. I wish we were in a place of excruciating excitement instead of this drab disappointment.

This time has grown my faith

This time has grown my faith. It has not been easy though. This is not a blind ignorant faith. I’m talking about a faith that comes from experiencing something that is bigger than me, than my  ability to explain and bigger than this situation. I’m talking about the darkest times during this experience where I have felt so alone and yet I have felt God let me know that he has my back. The knowledge that it would get easier and things would be better.

The above song is about holding onto God with everything we have in the hardest of times but the bigger picture is while there have been times where it has felt like I’ve been dangling by a thread, desperately trying to hold on to Him, I’ve seen that it is He who holds His big and mighty hand underneath us holding us like a massive safety net.

And so I pray – I pray for those who have lost in this way. I pray that they would know some of the Father’s love in the way I have. I pray that they would find comfort in God and I pray that they would not pose blame on God or themselves. I pray that they would have another chance and I pray that we will have another baby too.

 

 

New Wine & Long Exposures

By God, Photos 2 Comments

That was an intense week. It was intense because Ruth and I are dealing with some tough times ahead of us. On the Friday before New Wine I resigned at Tearfund. After a long and arduous 10 month probation period we all came to see that this job was just not working out so we are calling it a day. In summary; I have loved working at Tearfund but I just didn’t like my job.

It’s quite disappointing. It’s quite a relief.  Its also terrifying.

In three weeks time when I finish my notice period I will be re-entering the world of freelancing. In recognition that this is a difficult place to being Tearfund are offering me 3 months of freelance work with the youth and emgen team but we have yet to work out the details. I am hopeful that i will be able to continue a longer lasting professional relationship with the wider organization.

Over the week of New Wine I had space to think about what the future holds. Obviously ending a job has its worried especially in the current economic climate but I am confident that we will be just fine. There are various avenues of different free-lance work I can go back to and also new opportunities that hold much promise so it’s quite exciting in that respect.

During the week I had a real sense of God’s presence with me and during one of the evening sessions I felt God reminding me that he he is faithful:

“I’M HERE, I’M ALWAYS HERE, I ALWAYS HAVE BEEN HERE, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU!!!!”

Because the week was so quite full on in the thought-osphere I didn’t really engage with photography and it also didn’t help not having a good data signal but I did play with some long exposure stuff as per the above photo. Have some more of the long exposure shots below.:

 

The Gospel

By God One Comment

This is just beautiful!

Fav bit – Trying to prove God is like trying to defend a Lion homie, It don’t need your help! Just open up the cage.

Trip Update

By God, Work 2 Comments

Wow, This place is … thought-provoking!

This trip has been quite mind bender. I’ve never really witnessed such poverty on the scale that ive been witnessing it here. It’s epic in its proportions.

One of the first things I noticed with this town we are staying in called Poi Pet is the lack of infrastructure. This is obvious when you see all the rubbish everywhere. It’s dirty, smelly and hot and is hard to take in at times.

Then when you take in the reason why we are here its gets harder. Trafficking is not a great thing to think about.

BUT – seeing what CHO are doing here is amazing.

Check out their site!

A YouTube Comment Response

By God, Via Phone, Video One Comment

So there’s a guy on Youtube who commented on my What Jesus did video and the comments section is too small to reply too so I’ll do it here:

Here’s the comment thread:

see christianity doesn’t make any sence. why would he die for our sins even though he knows that that won’t change anything for anyone? In fact why is Jesus such an emo and is like yeah ill die WTF. He could have spent his time just ignoring the sins and trying to help the people who really needed his help instead of emoing the s**t outa himself. And thats all if he existed. Tho we all know he didn’t so yeah. Stupid stupid stupid. Nothing would have been different if he didn’t die i assure that. –

masterleon55 1 year ago

i couldn’t disagree more but hey – knock yourself out dude.

irishmark 1 year ago

dude, first of all, why is everyone sympathising with what the so called “jesus” do. First of all he didn’t even ask the community weather they needed the heart transplant so this can’t even be compared. He died for us? He died for us to save us from what? end of the world? are you joking me…what is there that the humanity needed to be saved from. Our sins? everyone is a sinner thats how it goes. It’s a natural born instinct that everyone on this planet has. what christians fail to aknowledge

masterleon55 1 year ago

@masterleon55 Actually that’s not entierly true – Theologically speaking, being born a sinner is not the natural way of things. It’s a product of the fall. It’s through Jesus that we get red of this label of Sinner.

He died not so save us from the end of the world but to save us from what happens after that. Also He does “ask the community” in a manner of speaking. He is always there but he will not force us to know him as this would omit the possibility of having a relationship with Him.

irishmark 8 months ago
@irishmark you have an interesting point there however there are some loop holes that i fail to understand. So here are a few q’s. How do we obtain the label of the sinner? Even if you are a monk, a budhist monk hat has no contact with any others so therefore cannot do harm or good, gaining a neutral position. Also why would jesus not want to interact. Some much rather know him more instead of a blind faith. And how can you know what happens after the end of the world? No one does. Thanks.

masterleon55 8 months ago

and back to me…

hey man, Great questions. So I think part of this is the definition of Sinner and Sin. I kind of recoil at the words because of the social connotations which include people pointing and judging which is all a load or rubbish. I go back to the meaning of the words. English is Latin based. In Spanish (which is also latin based) the word “sin” means without. The original meaning association of sin was to be “Without God” in other words. Christians believe that God made us to…

…be in relationship with him and seeing as that’s how he designed us this would have been the best for us. But he also gave us free will: the freedom to choose whether we would want to have a relationship with him. Having this choice is key because without it, it’s just be God forcing us to worship him which is not really a relationship. So when we choose to not have a relationship with god we are without God and all the greatness and goodness that comes with all that. It should never have been and never be about pointing the finger at people and calling them sinner which sadly it can sometimes turn in to.

On your other points –

The Monk – I don’t believe anyone can ever be truly neutral. Even Buddhist monks choose to live a life they feel is good but it is a choice. If we are left completely to our own devices what would the outcome be? I don’t know. It’s like my wild dog theory – Pregnant woman survives plane crash in jungle and gives birth to a baby but then she dies. A pack of wild dogs come along and raise the baby (yeah i know its preposterous but go with me on this). Would that baby grow to be a person with the same moral framework as you and I or would they just eat everything in sight?As a Christian I believe we would have a sense of some sort of right and wrong because we are created in the image of God i.e. with his outlook on life not necessarily his good looks and all that stuff.

Blind faith – My faith is far from blind. There is a lot more evidence for the existence of God than there is for the non-existence of God.  There is also historical evidence of the existence of Jesus.

And how can you know what happens after the end of the world? No one does. You’re bang on there. no-one does but we can try and understand with what we have been given. So in my case, I believe in what the bible tells me. Can i be sure and 100% positive. No I can’t – That’s where my faith comes in.

 

 

I’m going to Cambodia

By God, Work No Comments

On Wednesday morning my boss came to me and asked if I would be up for going to Cambodia at the beginning of April. Seeing as i know that these opportunities don’t come very often at Tearfund I jumped at the chance.

(img source)

Over the next week the plans will come together but I’ll be going for a week to meet a Tearfund partner. It’s all quite fun!

Prayin for mates in Christchurch, NZ

By Family, Friends, God No Comments

I’ve got a few friends out in Christchurch, New Zealand and we have been praying for them and everyone affected by the earthquake. Today on one of our friend’s blog was this image:

This was taken moments after the Earthquake.

There are two sets of friends out there, A good Mate Nathan who lost his father last weekend to Cancer and The Matthews (who’s blog I took the image from). They have been great keeping us informed of what has been going on out there bit it has been greatly overshadowed by The Gadafi Regime in Libya.

I wanted to bring some light to the situation there and so here are some quotes from their emails:

From Nathan

My family are all ok after the quake. I was at home. Had I been in the central city like I was the day before returning Dads stuff to the hospital I would have been right in the city where the destruction and loss of life is at it’s worst…. We rushed across the road to the school where my sisters kids were and they were all covered in dust  from the hillside coming down behind the school but ok. We then stayed on the feild in front of the school with them and heard terrible news on the radio from in town and tried to keep the kids calm as they worried about their parents who worked in town.

My Dads funeral has had to be postponed because of the quake here. We are now planning a private cremation today and then a memorial service just b4 I go back. People just have to much to do here at the moment and with people still trapped we have to focus on the living.

I’m amazed at Nathan’s final comment. Despite what his own family is going through they are still wanting to focus on helping others.

From the Matthews via Alex:

Please continue to pray for the many trapped and injured people and the bereaved families.
Firstly they (my family) have no electricity or hot water. They have had another very uncomfortable night with tremors every half hour. Their house is severely damaged and they need to move out of it untill they have had it assessed as to it being liveable. They are moving today to a place in Rangiora a small place just outside Christchurch.
In regards to their house they have a hole in their roof and the chimney has collapsed. A support structure on the end of their house has snapped and one section is sinking. In their garden there is a lot of ‘silt’ (geologists may know what that is) and springs bubbling and is in a flooded condition. This is typical of many residents in Christchurch.

READ MORE DIRECTLY ON THEIR BLOG

It’s a really messed up situation out there so PLEASE PRAY.
Even if you don’t believe in God, seeing as you can’t prove it, it’s worth 2 mins to pray for them.

End Violence Against Women #16days @Rest0red

By Blog, God, Video No Comments

Working for Tearfund has certainly been opening my eyes to the state of the world in which we live. It is such a privilege to work for a charity who’s vision it is to see these thing made right no matter how big the task seems.

Today is the start of the 16 days of activism to end violence against women. It runs from 25th Nov until Human Rights day on the 10th Dec.

In the UK 1 in 4 women will suffer domestic violence in her lifetime and 2 women a week still die due to domestic violence. Its 1 in 3 women globally. The UN state that Globally, women between the age of 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war combined (UN 2007)

  • Domestic violence is the largest form of abuse of women worldwide, irrespective of region, culture, ethnicity, education, class and religion.
  • It is estimated that more than two million girls are genitally mutilated per year, a rate of one girl every fifteen seconds.
  • The number of women forced or sold into prostitution is estimated worldwide at anywhere between 700,000 and 4,000,000 per year.
  • Did you know over two women per week are killed by current or ex-partners, and that one in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence in their lifetime?

Restored is a global Christian alliance to transform relationships and end violence against women.  We believe that Christian churches have huge potential to help prevent violence, but also need to change their own attitudes and practice. Our specific focus will be the prevention of domestic violence and sexual violence against women and girls.  This will include a Christian men’s initiative on preventing violence against women, which will come under the main alliance.  Restored’s priority in its first year will be to develop a pack to help churches address violence against women in their communities.

Tearfund’s press release on the launch of the church pack can be found here http://www.tearfund.org/News/Press+releases/Domestic+abuse.htm

And on a loosley related thread: watch this – Zainab Salbi: Women, wartime and the dream of peace:

Photo of the Day & Info overload

By Favs, God, Photos, Profound No Comments

So this weekend has been a great and wonderful one. When i got home on Friday eve i was feeling really stressed out after a bit of a difficult week. I really needed to have some time to relax and recharge. That has been achieved to a degree. We are still in real need of a full break. We have not had a proper break this year for just the two of us. Hopefully we’ll get something soon.

All this has had me feeling a lil wound-up generally but it was a friend who said something today. We were talking about the documentary series that has featured on BBC2  Recently called “The Big Silence“. This series has been looking in to the effects of our busy lives and it encouraged the participants to bring some silence in to their lives. This equated to some dramatic positive effects. The conversation we had earlier was also suggestive of the same sentiment. We fill our lives up with so much noise that it becomes difficult to relax, to be quiet, to hear from God.

So, this is where i ma. I need to cut some stuff out. My life is so full of stuff that i dont need. Now, I love my news feeds. They are a constant source of really great information and inspiration but the problem is that it is constant.

It needs to stop.

We all need to stop…..

Stop and listen.