Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Things to be thankful for in 2008

  1. My beautiful wife and daughter: your support, humour, inspiration and downright general ability to put up with me are more than I could ask for (all cheesy but all true...)
  2. For "The Dark Knight". Three further viewings in the past fortnight have only fortified its richness... Top film of the year? Oh yeah...
  3. For the great success of our Coffee and Chaos toddler group: all down to Jennie's hard work, our rota'd recruits from Beacon and God's rich blessing...
  4. For the mighty returns of Extreme and Metallica after years lost in the wilderness. Extreme's "Saudades de Rock" isn't quite up to the dizzy heights of "Waiting for the Punchline", but Nuno's licks and grooves will always make my day; as for Metallica's "Death Magnetic", it's a massive classic already. Can't get enough of it... Track 9 gets played over and over and over and over again in the car (much to Jennie's chagrin) ;-)
  5. For Graham and Sue Hall (Gateway Church, Ashford) and Tom and Josie Shaw (City Church, Canterbury): their joint support as we find our feet within the Beacon family has been fantastic, and their vision, wisdom and prophetic insight are a total gift from God. Love you guys...
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Saturday, 20 December 2008

How NOT to save your marriage

Just recently, I'd been researching facts and figures about the UK as a whole, and the Herne Bay area specifically, in order to develop a final "Cell Group Training" session at Beacon Church. This particular evening was intended to help us understand our culture a little more and seek God's guidance in how to engage with the people who live around us. Amongst the myriad of astonishing revelations (and there's plenty), there was one article I came across that really got to me...

... you see, there's a website called "Illicit Encounters" (*), where over 220,000 MARRIED members have signed up to meet like-minded others for sex. And 200 more are joining each day. The idea is, apparently - as 71% of said individuals stated when questioned - that they'd rather have an affair than divorce. So... "walking" is out of the question but so is "talking", eh? It just saddens me to hear people say that. I'm not commenting on the state of their marriages or on the difficulties they may have from their spouse's attitude or behaviour. I don't know their circumstances. But what I DO know is this... that God's blueprint for human sexuality - heterosexual intimacy within the sanctity of exclusive marriage - is pure, perfect, and right flipping brilliant. It's hard sometimes - Jen and I love each other to bits but we're both flawed and born in sin, in case you hadn't noticed - and I guess that's why so many couples find it easier to split, or even easier to have an affair. I dread to think where we might be now (or not) if it wasn't for God's transforming work in our lives, instead of celebrating nearly 15 years of marriage and still touchy-feely and loved up...

The Biblical "cord of three strands" (Ecclesiastes 4:12) adage is often used as a picture for Christian marriage, and it rings so true. Sure, we have a 3rd party involved in our marriage - like so many others these days, it seems - but ours is different. It's me, Jen and God. God's involvement in and intention for our marriage, our family, our sex life - God's way is old-fashioned and uncool. But it's also the best way; it brings mutual security, support, encouragement, exclusive intimacy, appropriate male and female input into a child's upbringing and the best expression of God's intention for mankind. In an age when this blueprint is continually under attack (check out the latest venom being flung at Rick Warren over Barrack Obama and the same-sex marriage debate: Al Mohler's blog), then we as Christians need to stand firm in our views, despite the criticism hurled our way, and know we honour Him as we do. It's hard, and we must never judge or patronise those that oppose us - we need to love them and let our lifestyles be our witness - but letting God's view of marriage - male/female in exclusive and committed union - be the light that shines. For His glory.

(*click here for an Illicit Encounters article - and there seems to be a whole lot more similar sites appearing in my google hits when I was searching for the latest figures on the subject...)
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Wednesday, 10 December 2008

What I want for Christmas...

  1. for the "Mamma Mia!" cinematic experience to have just been a horrible dream after all (baaaaaaaaaaadly made film)
  2. for "Watchmen" to live up to my hopes in cinemas in March
  3. for an extra 3 hours in each day and an extra day in each week
  4. for my latest novel to [actually get finished and] be taken on by an agent & publisher this time around
  5. for God to continue to bless us at Beacon Church in numbers (15% extra new folks in the past 6 months!), and to help us grow in our relationships, our worship and our boldness in sharing the Gospel
  6. above all, for the three of us to excel as a Christ-centred family throughout 2009
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