Is T.V killing fatherhood?

Aside

My kids enjoy watching TV and occasionally I have been known to watch with them although because all four of my children are girls the level of ‘girl mush’ often proves to be too much and I either leave or depending on the time of day, fall asleep!  Over the last few weeks during the snap shots that I have seen a uneasyness has begun to settle over me about one particular message that children’s tv shows appear to be giving.

‘Dads are stupid and should really be ignored!’

Allow me to give a couple of short illustrations – Nick Jnr. currently show my youngest daughter’s all time favourite show Peppa Pig.

peppa

Mummy Pig is smart, resourceful and can always be relied upon when needed.  Daddy Pig on the other hand is well… ‘fat’, a bit lazy and clueless and is often seen messing up only to be rescued by Mummy Pig!

My second youngest loves Disney channel’s Good Luck Charlie.

good luck

Although Amy,the mum is portrayed as obsessive and attention grabbing she is also clearly portrayed as the one in charge of the family while Bob, the dad again is well…’fat’, a bit lazy, clueless and often messes up only to be rescued by another family member.

I take my hat off to all wonderful mothers who are the glue that holds a family together and I personally do not know where I would be without my wife?

BUT

marriage is supposed to be a partnership and parents a team that agree on the best way to approach a situation! Right?

The Office of National Statistics state that

‘There had been an increase between 2001 and 2011 in the proportion of families… headed by a lone parent from 14.8 per cent to 16.1 per cent of all families. The growth in lone parent families was in those headed by a lone mother…’ (http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_259965.pdf )

At a time when we need fathers, more specifically we need good, capable, strong and reliable fathers why on earth would we allow our young and impressionable children to be fed with the erosive subliminal message that ‘Dads are stupid and should really be ignored!’?  Surely we are setting ourselves up to fail by lowering our children’s expectations of fatherhood and therefore losing the respect that they should have for us as parents.

As a church pastor it concerns me to think that when I refer to God as our Father, what kind of picture is kindled in the minds of children who are fed this negative media caricature?

Lets all have a good laugh at failure?

Tonight sees the annual kick off of Simon Cowel’s media monster, X Factor, this of course means that it will soon be Christmas (a sobering thought!!).
I have in the past been guilty of getting caught up in the series and no one was happier a couple of years ago than me to see Leona Lewis being shot to international stardom but something came to my attention recently that has completely changed my opinion…….
This is going to blow your minds I realise and I apologise in advance for any upset or disenchantment this revelation may cause but………

‘It’s all a fix!!’

…..In particular I am referring to the audition stage! I had never really given it much thought but did I ever believe that the illustrious Mr Barlow and fellow judges actually sat through the thousands of wannabes that we see outside what the producers would have us believe is the filmed auditions? I am reliably informed that this is not the case! Contestants are required to apply, they are then given a chance to come to a mass audition where they sing before production team members, if you are successful at this stage you are then given the chance to audition before the star studded(?) judges panel!
All of this is well and good but his means……..

All of the disillusioned and talentless acts that we find so amusing and are often villified by the national tabloid press have been told by the X Factor production team that we think you are good enough to go through!!

Ermm PROBLEM!

It seems to me that what is happening here is that some poor unfortunate people who genuinely believe they have a talent are being put through so that WE can laugh at them! This has somewhat nauseous overtones of bear- bating, a practice I believe to have been out-lawed in our supposed civilised modern society!

Infact when I began to think about it I began to realise that the whole show is not a celebration of talent but rather a sickening celebration of failure!!

Each week if you are honest, what do you watch to see (especially in the early weeks), your favourite stay or to rejoice as the one you don’t like go out!?

Having had this personal realisation, I for one cannot in good conscience watch the show. In my humble opinion, a show that thrives on public humiliation and failure and has this so thoroughly at its core should not be celebrated.

We’ll pay for you to run till you lungs pop but not fly you to hospital!

Like many I have thoroughly enjoyed the Olympic games. I have celebrated along side the victorious and felt the despair of those who missed out on their Olympic dreams. I have also been caught up in the swell of national pride, seeing the United Kingdom at number 3 in the medal tables and hosting such a successful games.
So, initially when the government announced that they would maintain the level of funding for our elite athletes until the next games in 2016 I was overjoyed, until……. I discovered that this was to a tune of (according to the guardian)£500,000,000 five hundred MILLION pounds!!!!! It then struck me that we the tax pagers are forking out all this money for something that is although glorious and enjoyable (especially when we are winning), utterly pointless! Especially when you consider what that sum of money could do to things that really matter, take Air Ambulance for instance.
For some unknown reason our government will fund people to run around a track and jump over fences but not fund a vital life saving frontline service!!? I read somewhere that an air ambulance costs in the region of 1.6 million pounds per year to operate even if that price was double the government could easily afford to fund each air ambulance with change over 4 years with the money it is putting into athletics.
I realise that the issue is far more complicated than I have outlined here but i want to use the illustration to raise a question about priorities and the cost of the choices we make!

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Social Media – a force for good?

A strange thing happened to me on Sunday! I had finished preaching my little heart out and was greeting the congregation after the service when I was greeted by a very nice African couple, he was adorned in a regal purple shirt, clerical collar and cross pendant!
‘Pastor, I have come here today specifically to speak to you. I have seen you on twitter…….’ And so the conversation went on. The gist of the conversation was that he wanted a partner church for his biblical seminary in Africa and my church was it!!!
Without getting into the questions of the gentleman’s sincerity and genuineness this does raise quite a concerning issue. By joining twitter or any other social media site and placing my professional details, my passions, vision etc on that site, it leaves me completely open to being targeted by individuals who want something other than spiritual guidance from me.
But on the opposite side of the equation – I received a message from Sweden last month, saying what a blessing the ministry of the church has been over the internet to them. I can only assume that this connection happened via twitter as I have never heard of the people before.
It is a hard line to walk. We must find ways of making sure that social media is a tool rather than a master, does us good rather than harm and brings life and blessing as opposed to pain and hardship to those who use it.

Bowling…for church !?

A couple of weeks ago i had the privalege of being asked to speak at a bowling themed, evangelistic event!  it was billed as a family event so the whole family somewhat reluctantly and dutifully attended.  It was actually very good and the kids surprised themselves by really getting into it, so much so, that they decided that indoor bowles is the new rock and roll and therefore something that they would like to do regularly.

We have attended a few times for the kids tor recieve some coaching and to date they are still enjoying themselves.  i on the other hand am beginning to go off the whole thing.  The bowling centre is full of old people who appear to be about 100, they have their own weird language and use some bizzare phrases, they have a very strict dress code, eticate, and constantly get irritated with the kids for running!  They appear to love the idea of having the kids around as it takes their avereage age down dramatically to below 100 but dont want them to interupt the staus quo.  The feeling of coming into this hallowed building as an insider and having to learn a whole new way of dressing, talking and behaving is…un-nerving!

Have you ever had one of those ‘DOH!’ moments when a truth hits you right between the eyes?  Well i had one yesterday as i sat feeling out of the loop at the Bowling ‘rink’ (to use its technical name!!). 

Is what i am experiencing now, what most people experience when they attend church for the first time?  I have to admit, the idea has horrified me!!  I shudder at the idea, but the more that i think about it, the more that i realise that the Bowles club could quite easily be my church.  We do things a certain way, dress a certain way, use unfamiliar language….do you catch my drift?

A question i now have to ask is, what are the immediate common sense things that i can do right now to avoid anyone feeling the same sense of uneasiness that i have felt?  I am sure there are plenty.  But what about some of the more ingrained, traditional elements of what we do?  Of the things we do and the way we act, what is essential to our faith, what is religious fluff?  How far do we go to accomodate new people before we over step the mark and offer (as Deitrich Bonhoeffer called it) ‘cheap grace’?

Of course you cant really truly compare Indoor Bowles to the Church, one is a game that is played religiously, the other is the place people come to worship the living God.  I pray that people who come in to church see more of the living God and less Bowling club!

 

It’s not okay!!

I’d like to put it to you that we are all being fed a huge lie! Every time we turn on our TV, every time we tune into the radio, read magazines, papers (you get the picture!). This lie is so entrenched that they are even teaching it to our children from a very young age. The lie that we are all being fed is that sex outside God’s ideal of marriage is ok and you can have as many partners as you like so long as you take precautions! I would publicly like to stick my neck out and say that as a christian I don’t think this is okay!
It’s not okay for teenagers to have sex with their boyfriends/girlfriends; its not okay with me that they are fed this lie through almost every avenue in society.
The Bible very clearly states that sex out of the confines of marriage is simply not okay! This is an area that (to our shame) the church retains an embarrassed silence, Its too personal, not popular or politically correct.
God is not a prude who is trying to kill anyone’s fun, He is intimately concerned with every area of our lives but there are excellent reasons why sex with numerous partners outside the confines of marriage is not God’s ideal. God’s idea for sex with someone is that there is not just a physical exchange that happens but a spiritual union for life. Think about the pain that can be experienced in a relationship breakdown especially when it has involved a sexual dimension. Consider the issue of STD’s – would they exist in a world that kept sex within the confines of marriage? Let’s not even start on the issue of prostitution, pornography and the human trafficking trade that feeds the demand for these things.
I don’t want to condemn anyone and am not here to pass judgement on anyones life style. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. Jesus took the punishment for all of our sin when he died on the cross and his forgiveness is freely available to all.

God calls us to purity in all areas of our lives and that includes sexual purity so for that reason I can not and will not ever say that sex outside God’s ideal is okay.

Letting in the light

There is something comforting about sitting in a dark room. No one else can see in, you can’t see out, if its a really dark room you can’t even see what’s in the room. This is great if you want somewhere to sleep but it is an awful place to live your life from!
So many of us live huge parts of our life in a dark room with the curtains firmly shut. Maybe it is because we feel that it provides a safer or more secure place. Maybe it is because we are ashamed or scared that we hide ourselves. Issues such as addiction, relationship breakdown, debt can cause us to shut down, close the curtains and turn off the lights because frankly its easier!
Jesus didn’t come to be a metaphorical light to the world. He came to be a very real, practical, gritty and down to the earth life giving light. When we allow him to shine HIS light on the dark places of our life it is not to highlight our failings or inadequacies (that is not the way he rolls!) But rather it is to bring light instead of darkness, hope instead of despair, replacing tears with joy, and mourning with dancing! To quote the legendary American preacher S Lockeridge ‘…that’s My King!’

Who will listen?

Today I spent some time listening! A strange thing to say I know but when I say listen, I mean really listen! It’s a surprisingly difficult thing to do well but the benefits are enormous. It got me thinking about how much time we each spend listening and being listened to. Not just hearing and understanding what is being said but really listening to every last scrap of what is said and all the undercurrents that lay behind what is being communicated. Of course this is a skill that comes over time and our lives are so busy, the kids want to be fed, the phone chimes away, the tv in the background but just imagine the possibilities. What a difference it could make to friendships, family, your marriage?
God spoke to Elijah in a still small voice, maybe if we learned to really listen we too could hear God’s still small voice……now that could change everything!