TV & Radio Goodies

ShedTalkHey guys, a couple of notable media events this week.  Did you catch Sunday evening’s kick off of the men’s program ShedTalk on Premier Christian radio?

Shed talk hosts Carl Beech, Head of CVM, live from the Shed alongside Jeremy and Dave as they banter about faith, men and the church.

…and if you did miss it here is a link to listen again when you get a spare 30 mins; ShedTalkThis is a weekly show – Sundays 9-9.30pm – catch it live next week!

Bear GryllsAlso, later this week sees Piers Morgan’s Life Stories focus on Bear Grylls (Friday 19th Sept 9pm on ITV).

Here is the blurb from the ITV website;

In this last show of the series Piers will be interviewing Bear Grylls as he reflects on his life and career as one of the most famous TV adventurers and all round action man. Bear talks to Piers about having to perform extreme survival challenges and opens up about serving in the military’s most elite force – the SAS, and his astounding ascent of Everest, at just 23. He also opens up to Piers about a freak parachuting accident, which nearly left him paralysed.

Bear is also a Christian & not afraid to talk about it.  So why not tune in and spark a debate with your mates at work!  After Bear prayed over food on his recent Channel 4 series ‘The Island’, the next day my work colleagues were keen to talk about it.  So don’t miss this opportunity!

Slow Down

Slow DownAs we take a break for summer – the next Strive events are in September – I’ve been thinking about slowing down.  So many of my friends and colleagues are running on empty… me too.  It’s about time we took a look at slowing down.

I took a look at scripture, and am stunned about where this appears… from start to finish and all in between!  So here is a synopsis of what I found & how it spoke to me;

 

First I found this in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing

‘Surrender my body to the flames’… I don’t know about you but when I work my socks off it can sometimes feel like that.  I’m even thinking maybe this is the source of the Monday morning feeling!  If work (or whatever is exhausting you) drains so much, then there is likely no love in it.  So how to change this?  I was led to Isaiah 40:28-31

31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

This is a stunning piece of scripture that speaks so much to me. Such power in the words.  Rest & hope in the Lord, soar on wings like eagles.  Doesn’t get better than that!

Worried that others will work harder & achieve more?  That’s covered in Psalm 37

7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways

Being busy all the time inevitably means we miss God.  It seems we are called to pray and ask God for what’s on our hearts, and just as important; be still and wait patiently to hear from Him.  Not convinced?  Well He is the creator of all, look at Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If He has the plans… why on earth would we not spend time earnestly seeking Him?!

Finally, what did the ultimate man do?  Well…

  • After a full-on day, feeding the 5000? He went off by himself to pray, do you ever do that after a tough day? Matthew 14:22-23  
    He also took the apostles off to a quiet place for some rest. Mark 6:30-31
  • Before choosing the 12 apostles?  He also went off to pray for this tough decision.  Luke 6:12-13
  • When he’d had just about enough?  Again he retreated to pray. Luke 22:39-43

The message seems loud and clear to me.  Even if you can only retreat (like Jesus in Luke 22) a stones throw away.  Even if it’s only for a few minutes.  Grab those minutes, take time out, and give it up to God.

We must strive to find a manageable pace of live.  We owe it to ourselves, and to those around us to be the best we can.  We also must make God the obvious centre of our lives – which looks nothing like working ourselves to the bone, but more about giving up authority and power to Him… He is the creator afterall!

God Loves Women

woman_leaderGod loves women (or more accurately @God_loves_women) is a twitter account I follow, and her thoughts are as important to me as that of, say, Carl Beech (@CarlFBeech) the head of Christian Vision for Men. The same could be said of many other female Christians (even non-tweeters!).

 The media has been full of negative stories about Christians degrading and undervaluing women recently, and to be quite frank I’ve had enough.

I guess this all started with the Bishop thing. Now, in my view, actually that motion in itself is good it didn’t pass. From what I understand it would’ve created a second class of Bishops for women, and that is wrong. Of course no women Bishops at all isn’t better, but equal women Bishops is what we need to strive for.

A few fays ago the Daily Mail negatively misrepresented a member of the female clergy. I say negatively misrepresented because people who know her have said this, not because it’s in the media.

Yesterday a storm brewed over the Bristol CU, apparently banning women speakers. Again on the face of it that is wrong, but I’m assured by people close to it this has also been misrepresented.

I don’t know about you but I can’t help but think there is a reason for this. How about an attempt to hide the real Christian agenda? What you may not have seen (though some have carried articles) in the papers are the uprising of campaigns supporting and fighting for equality and justice for women;

No more page 3  – a campaign to ban the printing of women with few clothes on in the popular national newspaper.  There is a petition here.

Make modesty wraps law – a campaign to enforce modesty wraps on ‘lads mags’ and the like to stop images objectifying women being in open display.  More can be read about this on this CVM post. Again a petition is here.

Restored – a campaign to end violence against women. Consider joining their First Man Standing campaign.

Anti-trafficking and also 27 million campaign – every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim of human trafficking, largely into the sex trade. Simply sickening.

Campaigning for women Bishops and another Synod vote. You can sign this petition.

Let’s be honest, what should be headline news, 27 million people trafficked or what’s going on in I’m A Celebrity?

I think we need a backlash to the negativity. Guys stand up, take action, support these campaigns and lift up women around you. Maybe not physically! But make it clear in your actions that women are both good enough to be our leaders and we also need & expect them to be in senior roles.  Don’t be a nice quiet Christian now, please take action. If enough people take action maybe the media will take to reporting important news accurately.  What are you waiting for? Sign up on those sites above, it’s a good place to start.

Oh and if you have a wife/daughter then make sure they know there is no ‘glass ceiling’, and support them in their calling. If you don’t have a wife or daughter, then go and tell a woman you respect that you support her, and follow it up with your actions.

After all God loves women.
(PS if you’re still not sure, have a good study of all the magnificent women in the bible, many of which were great leaders)

What can we learn from the Borgias in our time?

I have always had a passion for history. I studied it at A level alongside Chemistry and Pure Maths, an unusual combo, and read it at Uni. I still try to keep abreast of recent developments in thinking and my mental taste buds tingled when I heard that Radio 4’s “In Our Time” was going to be discussing the Borgias. You don’t need a degree in history to have heard of the Borgias; they are a byword for depravity.

You may be familiar with some of the story. A family whose gene pool concentrated all that is bad. First, there is the ultimate femme fatale, Lucretia, a skilled poisoner and sexual predator who had carnal knowledge of both her father, who happened to be the pope, and her brother. These two men, Pope Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia, stand out in the annals of history for their political corruption, sexual appetites and bloodlust!

This Spanish family has been a veritable gold mine to TV writers, movie producers and authors of a certain genre of fiction. They can all ply their trade; maintaining a veneer of education while liberally sprinkling erotica and gore.

As always, the In Our Time team painted a word portrait of their subject. Placing the family in their historical context and examining the actual evidence available. It transpires that the Borgia myth is exactly that, a myth. There is no evidence of incest or of Lucretia being a lethal pharmacologist. Indeed she is very much a victim. Throughout history women from “good” families have been a bargaining chip in the world of diplomacy or family ambition. Sadly that mentality survives today in some cultures. Once Lucretia was able to escape the world of political intrigue she wanted nothing more than to settle down to happy domesticity and family life. More girl next door than Morticia Addams!

Cesare lived up to his stereotype a bit more. He was not a man that would laugh off an insult being much more likely to resort to swordplay. However, judged by the soldiers of his day he doesn’t stand out as bloodthirsty and, as he was the patron of a certain Leonardo Da Vinci, he obviously had a softer side.

Pope Alexander VI will probably not be put forward by the Church of Rome for canonisation any time soon; a most unsuitable man to be a successor to St Peter. However, he wasn’t the first Pope to try and establish a dynasty and he won’t be the last to take the role of statesman more seriously than his role as Vicar of Christ.

So the Borgias turn out to be a bit tame really; you probably wouldn’t want them as neighbours but they are just another dysfunctional family.

So why am I talking about them? I heard the In Our Time broadcast at about the same time I was digesting the news that synod had voted not to allow women bishops and it seemed to me that a myth was about to start about Christ’s family as it did about the Borgia family. We can already read in the newspapers that the Church is out of touch, is misogynist, antediluvian, dysfunctional, please add any adjective you have heard!

The fact is that a small minority of the CofE’s synod rejected women bishops. Remember the CofE is not the Church; it is but one denomination within it. Regardless, the CofE would be planning the ordination of women bishops today but for the curious alliance of two groups; first, the Anglo Catholics and, secondly, the Conservative Evangelicals.

Most Anglo Catholics I have met are a curious phenomenon. By doctrinal inclination they would be Roman Catholics but they like the legitimacy of having a woman in their bed. In their bed mark you; not in their profession. The conservative evangelicals are persuaded, in my view, by an interpretation of scripture that does not stand up to the rigour of intellectual interpretation. Check the credentials of members of each house who voted for women bishops if you doubt me.

The debacle of synod has damaged the church enormously; not just for the reasons I have suggested above.

By opening the body of Christ, for that is what the church is supposed to be, to ridicule the Church’s ability to be seen as a relevant voice is diminished. On issues such as abortion, the environment, the nature of marriage, UK poverty, the abuse of capitalism and all the other issues that the body of Christ should be concerned with the church now has a tarnished image. One of those issues, championed by Christ, is respect for women. Read about the woman caught in adultery, or the conversation Christ had with the Samaritan woman by the well. Our Lord was an early champion of women’s rights; we, as a church and as a men’s group should do no less.

At Strive many of us have signed up to CVM’s CodeLife. It does what it says on the tin – gives us a code for life! One of the codes is that we will treat all men and women as brothers and sisters. We will not discriminate. For more info on the code have a look here http://codelife.org/code.html

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be downcast by the events at synod. Christ’s church has had bigger challenges and if Melvyn Bragg can rehabilitate the Borgias I’m pretty sure that honest Christians will win the day!

Cutting Corners

I Want You To Do Your Best

These following two readings came up in a single day, one in the UCB Word for today, and the other in my children’s Topz daily notes. In fact I was thinking through the Deuteronomy one whilst the Proverb came along. I do love when that happens… I need the message loud and clear, and clearly God knows that!

Proverbs 28:18 (The Message)

“If you care for your orchard, you’ll enjoy its fruit; if you honor your boss, you’ll be honored.”

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 (NLT)

“Today LORD your God has commanded you to obey all these decrees and regulations. So be careful to obey them wholeheartedly. You have declared today that the LORD is your God. And you have promised to walk in his ways, and to obey his decrees, commands, and regulations, and to do everything he tells you. The LORD has declared today that you are his people, his own special treasure, just as he promised, and that you must obey all his commands. And if you do, he will set you high above all the other nations he has made. Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown. You will be a nation that is holy to the LORD your God, just as he promised.”

So what is it about? In my mind it’s speaking about not cutting corners, in anything.  From keeping your house tidy, to finishing off a bit of paid work to the best of your ability. It’s easy to think that it’s just about doing the right thing at church, or just treating people right, but this is also saying it matters to God that you give your best at home to your wife and kids.  At work it matters too; not just in doing your best work, but also not gossiping, or bitching about the boss. The latter is why I chose the message version – quite clear about the boss! It occurs to me that the boss will be different people at different times – line manager(s), board members, vicar/pastor, team captain, wife, etc.

If you’ve read Codelife this fits well in IV – I will not cheat in anything, personal or professional. If you’ve not read or heard about Codelife yet, go and have a look at Codelife.org for more on that.

There are two sides to this though, in both of these texts. …you’ll enjoy the fruit; you’ll be honoured (Proverbs) Then you will receive praise, honor, and renown (Deuteronomy).  Do your best in everything, do everything He tells you (literally in Deuteronomy), and you will receive praise and honour. We’re not promising great riches here, the honour maybe only in heaven, but that is for eternity… Anyone told you to play the long game? Well there it is.

Some thoughts on Jesus

Beatrix Potter stories were probably the first books I learnt to read; the antics of Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin introduced me to the joys of the English language and began my love affair with books.

However, being raised in the countryside I never really bought in to the anthropomorphic characters.  Rabbits appeared too often on the dinner table for there to be any sentimentality about them and squirrels were vermin; rats with bushy tales.

Not so for my friend John; brought up in a city his knowledge of the natural world came from an unfortunate combination of the Potter stories and Walt Disney!  Nature made cute.  John carried this bowdlerised view of the animal kingdom into his mature years and would probably carry it still if he had not met a real Squirrel Nutkin, “red in tooth and claw”, on a day trip to the country.

It was a bank holiday a few summers back when John decided to take his family for a picnic in a country park.  Unusually for a bank holiday the weather was fantastic; a bright yellow sun and an azure blue sky.  No doubt because the weather was so good, every car in the home counties seemed to be on the road.

Sitting in a slow moving line of traffic approaching the picnic site there seemed to be almost as many cars heading in the opposite direction but they were moving slightly quicker.  It’s then that John sees the grey cousin of squirrel Nutkin; caught between the two lines of moving cars, running hither and thither, obviously panicking and unable to find a gap that will allow him to reach safety.  John, moved by compassion for a fellow being, stopped his car and went to help the little fella.  To pick him up and carry him to safety was the plan.

Alas for John, animals in the wild do not behave as though they were in Snow White!  As he bent down to pick it up and take it to safety the squirrel sank its teeth into his hand.  Blood flowed, pain surged and John’s vocabulary became very Anglo Saxon!  He tried to pull the animal off with his free hand but its jaw refused to open.  In desperation he picked up a stick from the roadside, held the squirrel away from his body and aimed a blow at it.  At this point the squirrel released its grip, fell to the ground and headed for the safety of the woods.

John didn’t get to the picnic site; he had to head for the nearest A&E.  While he was injected with antibiotics, a tetanus booster and a Rabies jab, his family ate their picnic in the car park.

It was later that evening that he arrived home; sore frustrated and angry.  He was settling down to a G&T when the police arrived.  They had been given photos of John holding a helpless animal by the throat while beating it with a stick and then launching it into the woods.  They also had his car registration.  Fortunately common sense prevailed and John was not charged or cautioned.

So why am I sharing these memories.  First because I met up with John recently and we had a laugh about it.  Secondly because I think we all suffer from image management.  Every day we meet, in the media, politicians and entertainers and we have views about them; but what do we really know?  Is Nick Clegg a cuddly toy or a nasty vermin that will sink his teeth into you in order to survive?  I’ll leave that one to you.  What I want to discuss is how we perceive Jesus Christ?

Just close your eyes for a second and create an image of our Lord. What did you see?

  •  A hippy in a robe?
  • A child in a manger?
  • A man dressed only in a loin cloth hanging on a cross?

What emotions were invoked?

  •  Love for the man who was love?
  • Tenderness for the meek and mild baby?
  • Sympathy for the dying hero?

It seems to me that much of society, including parts of the church, has taken Jesus and turned him into a Disney character; a theological squirrel Nutkin!  We have emasculated Him.

I want to talk about the Jesus that was an action man.

The Jesus that drove sinners from the temple.

The Jesus that, again and again, faced down the Pharisees and Sadducees.

The Jesus that stood face to face with Pilate and stood firm.

The Jesus that endured physical and mental abuse from His tormentors and lost neither His dignity nor His temper.

The Jesus that was nailed, naked, to a cross and died the agonising death of a criminal.

The Jesus that did all of this for you and me.

This is the Jesus I love, the Jesus I follow.  That’s why a bunch of men are meeting once a month, in Christchurch Warminster, to learn about Jesus through the Gospel of Mark. Learning about the real Jesus not a sentimental caricature.  Please come and join us, details of when we meet will appear on the Home page..

Of course there are other aspects to Him: the compassion of the healer, the patience of the friend, the wisdom of the teacher.  He was, and is, everything that is good, and as everything He speaks to everyone.  Man or woman.  I would just like to reunite us with the fully human man who was God incarnate!

What is your screensaver?

Stunning image from desktopography.net

Stunning image from desktopography.net

Last month I challenged you to consider our wealth, free your wallet if you like!

This month the challenge is to free your mind! There are many ways that is a good thing to do, maybe we’ll have a series, but in particular I’ve been thinking of ways to create positive cycles, to make living positively easier. Like the opposite to cycles of negativity, let’s get into good habits.

So what is your screensaver? What is the background picture on your laptop, PC, phone or tablet? It’s something that stares at you, or at least is there all the time. A constant reminder. An excellent place to advertise the operating system, or your company’s logo.

People fill it with pictures of the family, favorite sports team, maybe a picture from a film or game, a celebrity or someone who looks gorgeous.

I’ll leave you to weigh up the pros and cons of each, but I challenge you to think about it. This picture is something that you’ll see a great deal of, even small glimpses of, but it’s always there. The bible has some direction on such things;

Luke 11:34 NLT

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness.

And reiterated in Matthew..

Matthew 6:22-23 NLT

“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

Suddenly that background picture seems more important! (If you want to read more think through Proverbs 17:24 and Proverbs 4:23-27)

It also occurs to me that late at night this may be the last thing you see before surfing the net. It could be the reminder you need to stay on the right kind of website, or even just turn off and go to bed.

Now I’m not saying it needs to be a big fat cross (nice though that may be), but maybe a family/friends picture, or a countryside scene of awesome beauty. What is important is the connection you make with it, the thoughts it evokes. I’ve used some great ones from desktopography.net – some superbly stunning pictures on there, like the one at the top of this post. It could even have some inspirational words, a subtle bible verse, or even just a single word that encourages you.

It’s about the little things that make living a good and positive life that much easier.

So let us know – what is on your background?

Privileged

Do you feel rich?  I don’t… or at least I didn’t.

I’ve not secretly hit The Times rich list, and the way I’m going I’m not likely to hit it either!  However I was absolutely shocked to find out my wage puts me within the top 1% on the global rich list.  Top 1%, that is staggering.

Here are some stats from the World Bank Development Research Group;

3 billion people in this world get by on less than $2 a day

1.3 billion on less than $1 a day

70% of those 1.3 billion are women.

How do those facts make you feel?  Overwhelmed, disconnected, helpless, frustrated, maybe even angry?  The problem I find is how to make it real in my life.  How do I understand and how can I make a difference.  It’s too easy to sit back and let the status quo tick over. Doing nothing can’t be an option.

So I took the ‘Live Below The Line Challenge’.  Five days living on £1 a day for food & drink.  It took a lot of planning, and even more self control.  Porridge, rice, pasta and lentil dhal became staples for me.  It was suitably difficult and really made me consider how fortunate me & my family are for being in that top 1%.  The planning made life more difficult, the lack of flexibility, even tea & coffee became absolute treats.

You may say this is a stunt, not making any change at all.  Well we raised a little money for Christian Aid, but beyond that I have physically experienced that I am privileged.  I need to be so thankful for all I have here, need to be a better steward with what I have & do as much as I can to support those not so fortunate to be given all the opportunity I have.  It has made me sit up and take notice.

Especially as Christians I think sitting back and doing nothing is not good enough.  I admit it is tough in this day and age of constant information bombardment.  A world full of need.  I encourage you to pick one thing and make a change, do a little and it might just make a huge difference.

So if it’s only 5 mins on an internet game, make it this one & get some food to those who need it FreeRice (see if you can beat level 20!)

Or a bigger challenge, have a go at the Live Below The Line Challenge.  I have found it life changing.

What is Truth?

I regularly receive an eMail from an American widow living in Nigeria who has terminal cancer. This generous hearted woman wants to bequeath me many millions of dollars so that I can do good works in her memory; all I have to do is send her details of my bank account! Do I respond to these eMails?

Of course not.

A friend of mine is writing a book on the history of email based scams and they range from the ludicrous to the very plausible. The very fact that someone continues to make the effort to send them suggests that every now and then someone is sucked in. Spam filters help but they are not consistent.

If eMail is annoying, the World Wide Web can be positively dangerous.

My daughter had a teacher who, when he set a homework assignment, would warn the class that he had been on-line and modified the related Wikipedia entries to include some falsehoods! His reasoning being twofold; first he knew that the research tool of choice was Google and that the first result returned would normally be Wikipedia; resulting in twenty plus essays that were almost identical. Secondly, he knew that Wikipedia is as reliable as radio 4’s racing tips!

The Internet contains more information than all of the libraries in the western world combined and it is available in seconds through tools like Google and Bing. We have filters that are more sophisticated than those for Spam so we can block out pornography or violence or anything that offends us. What we don’t have a filter for is the truth.The mock quote above should be a salutory lesson.

How do you decide which statements are true?

Last year JP Rangaswami posted a series of blogs on how we curate information, how we validate and distribute that information. http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2011/08/20/thinking-about-curation-in-the-enterprise/ JP was concerned primarily with corporate curation but his ideas have a wider application. In summary it is down to people to accept responsibility for determining what is truth and what is not. Those people are you and me!

It seems to me that we have delegated the role of curation to someone else. If your view on world affairs is informed by Fox news you will have a different perspective than if you follow CNN. The Daily Mail reader does not see the world through the same lens as an Indie reader. We accept as truth something that comes from a trusted source but should we really be trusting that source.

In John’s account of our Lord’s trial we hear that:

Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man. It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’?” Jn 18:38 (The Message)

Pilate, the curator of information, found nothing wrong in Jesus; but he still had Him crucified. What is Truth and who can we trust?

So why do I write these words today? Last week a friend of mine published a post pronouncing that one of the USA’s leading historians had proven that the medieval church supported gay marriage. The guy in question is a senior person in the Anglican church, he prefixes his name with initials that imply seniority, and he has more degrees than a school kid’s protractor.

I left a comment on his post saying it was garbage.

As a consequence I received a flood of mail and comments abusing me as a homophobe, a mysogenist and a follower of a “sky fairy”. The church, I was told, should be purged of folk like me. Although they didn’t say folk!

The point is, it was garbage. The post was based on an earlier post from an earlier post and it was a complete farce. No reputable historian has supported it and never will. It’s a fabrication, a Romance, a Fiction; a Lie.

I don’t want to use this post as a forum to rehearse my views on same sex marriage; we’ve done that elsewhere. I do want to encourage you to accept the responsibility to curate the information you receive.

To apply the filter of common sense. To ask others if this makes sense. We are all being bombarded with facts and truths – we need to take a collective responsibibility to purge the lies.

Remember, John Terry did not win the Cup for Chelsea, he just got himself in the photos!


MenUnited Wiltshire

Recently Strive have been in contact with some like-minded men from MENUNITED Wiltshire – based over in Trowbridge. We find this a huge encouragement! Hopefully over the next few months & years we will be able to share events. Look out for those in our events section.  For now though, read & be encouraged by their latest newsletter;

 

MENUNITED
Wiltshire
(The newsletter of the Wiltshire Men’s Prayer & Fellowship Group)

In opening our April prayer and fellowship group meeting, Tony Smith quoted from an article prepared by Southampton Christian Network on “Transforming Prayer”. The author, referencing her own experience in Manchester, said that where there is vision – the kind that is realistic, sustainable and easy for people across the board to grasp – a great deal can be achieved. Tony exhorted us to pray specifically into the vision God has given us – for our town; our county; the nation and for non Christian men in our area –and not be sidetracked. He encouraged us to ask ourselves “What do we want Trowbridge to look like five years from now?” For about 45 minutes a dozen guys interceded for our Queen; David Cameron and other government leaders; Christian MPs of which there are known to be 49 “committed Christians” and could be more; and for various aspects of Trowbridge life including the Town Council, the Mayor and Town Councillors, the emergency services; our schools; and the large amount of voluntary work that is being carried out.

In his Easter Address at No 10 as reported by The Guardian, the Prime Minister, David Cameron said, “This is the time when, as Christians, we remember the life, sacrifice and living legacy of Christ. The New Testament tells us so much about the character of Jesus; a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love. These are the values that Jesus embraced, and I believe these are values people of any faith, or no faith, can also share in, and admire.

“It is values like these that make our country what it is – a place which is tolerant, generous and caring. A nation which has an established faith that together is most content when we are defined by what we are for, rather than defined by what we are against. In the book of Luke, we are told that Jesus said, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ – advice that when followed makes for a happier, and better society for everyone.”

He told the assembled guests that he welcomed a Christian “fight back”. He said: “I think there’s something of a fight back going on, and we should welcome that. The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values that we need.”

These comments – a public avowal of his faith which is to be welcomed – contrast with previous jocular remarks. In a 2008 interview in The Guardian the then future Prime Minister said: “I am a sort of typical member of the Church of England.” The Sunday Telegraph commented recently that ‘the bemusement of Christians was understandable when David Cameron, at his Easter reception for churchmen in Downing Street, welcomed a Christian ‘fight back’, while his own Government is pursuing a case at the European Court to enforce the ban on the cross at work.

Let us continue to be steadfast in praying for the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Government – particularly Ian Duncan Smith, a cabinet member who is a committed Christian – and all MPs. Let us pray for wisdom to be granted to our leaders. Let us pray also for the many Christian Members of Parliament, that they will bring a godly influence in the affairs of state.

Around 300 people from different churches – and none – gathered in Holy Trinity Church on Easter Sunday evening for an Easter Celebration. The celebration was organised by the Maranatha Church and is yet a further demonstration of how churches can work together effectively in Trowbridge. Surely this is a further indication that God has started something new and exciting in our town.

In anticipation of our July prayer breakfast, we are seeking to establish links with men’s groups across the County. We have been able to make a good link with Emmanuel Church in Chippenham. Spencer Shaw, the Pastor, tells us that a group of men from his church attend the Bristol Men’s Convention – now in its 3rd year and being held at the Colston Hall. If you are interested please visit the convention website – http://www.bristolmensconvention.org.uk/

We have been given a link to Paul Bradbury from the Salisbury Diocese who was licensed in Sept 2008 into the regeneration area of Poole. Paul runs a project called Wild Spirit which is a series of social and spiritual events specifically for men. Those of you who have a love/passion for walking/climbing may like to have a look at his web site – http://wildspirit.org.uk/

We have been encouraged with up to 20 men on occasions meeting to intercede for our town and its leaders; the County and all its elected officials and civil servants; and our Nation – our blessed Queen Elizabeth, the Prime minister and the Government. We have had some powerful times when we have sensed that we were being an influence for good as we brought these matters before our mighty God. We are conscious however that 7.00 pm on the second Wednesday evening each month may not be convenient for some of you who feel a burden like us to pray together. So we are considering having a second meeting on another day, perhaps another time and would appreciate input from any who would be interested in us developing this. The only suggestion that was made the last time we raised the subject was to have a meeting during the day which might be more suitable for men who are retired or who work in Trowbridge and could get away from their business around lunch time. If you have any thoughts, could you email them to Geoff Tate please?

Dates for your diary:
Saturday 21st April: Breakfast meeting at The Food Factory, Airsprung Beds, Canal Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8RQ – speaker Joey Perez from Philadelphia, USA.
9th May: our usual time of prayer, fellowship and ministry at Bethesda Baptist Church at 7.00 pm. We would encourage you to join us if you can.
25th – 27th May: Mighty Men’s Conference at Nidderdale Agricultural Showground, Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire. Speaker – Angus Buchan. The conference is free of charge. For more information visit www.daleybread.org
29th June – 1st July: CVM’s “The Gathering XII” at Lynt Farm, nr Swindon SN6 7QZ. As the UK’s biggest Christian Men’s Movement they hope to provide the perfect weekend for guys to take stock of their lives with excellent activities and top class speakers, including Carl Beech, Lyndon Bowring and Jon Burns, and worship led by Graham Kendrick and his band. For more information visit http://cvm.org.uk
7th July: MENUNITED Wiltshire – “Sharing the vision: Moving on with God” – a men’s “doughnuts and coffee” morning from 8.30.am to 10.30.am at Holy Trinity Church, Trowbridge. Rees James from Bethesda Baptist Church will be the speaker. We are now in contact with groups of men from across the County and are praying that this time will be a good opportunity for us all to worship together; network; share stories; hear God’s word and make a commitment to unite in prayer right across Wiltshire. May God be pleased to heal our land.

Finally, a couple of thoughts for you to mull over. A study in the USA shows that if a married man comes to church/Christ, 90% of the time his family does too. May this encourage us in our prayers for men.
TRANSFORMATION. “[All] change, even very large and powerful change, begins when a few people start talking with one another about something they care about.” ( Margaret J. Wheatley)

There is a real sense that God is doing something new in Trowbridge (and we are sure this is reflected elsewhere in the County). Let us continue to pray in the expectancy of a real spiritual breakthrough in the area and indeed in our Nation.

Produced on behalf of MENUNITED by Geoff Tate
Issue No.8 – April 2012