Living Life Now

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Queen: Prophetically Speaking !

I'm not usually fussed about hearing the annual Christmas message from Her Majesty, but I was flicking through the T.V. today and decided to stop on it.

Well...all I could think was that the Queen has either been reading a few blogs (highly unlikely I know), or something Higher is at work.

The Queen echoed exactly what Dan and myself have spoken about in our past couple blogs. She hi-lighted in particular the need to reach out to the vulnerable people in society, so that no one, particularly at this time of year should feel alone, lost or abandoned.

She spoke of Jesus of Nazareth who "...reached out and made friends with people whom others ignored or despised. It was in this way that He proclaimed His belief, that in the end we are all brothers and sisters in one human family".

The Queen then went on to say how the Christmas story draws attention to those who "...are on the edge of society", and how it is all too easy to pass them by.

She mentioned how all the religious teachings of the world will press the message that we are all responsible for the disadvantaged people in our societies.

In her summary, the Queen uses this statement,

"Because this would most rejoice His heart, let us remember in His name, the poor and the helpless, the cold, the hungry and the oppressed, the sick and those who mourn, the lonely and the unloved."

If the head of the Church of England can do this, then let's all pray that those who head up other churches around the world can start to do the same. As Her Majesty put said, it's what Jesus Himself did, and it would rejoice His heart to know we are doing the same.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mark Driscoll: The reason I'm not going to Brighton 2008 !

I'm not going to the Newfrontiers Together On A Mission conference in 2008.

Simple statement, but there is a lot behind my decision.

On his blog, Terry Virgo has announced that american preacher Mark Driscoll will be the guest speaker at the conference, because,

"...having had Rob [Rufus] with us for the last two years, now to welcome Mark Driscoll whose emphasis on the Word of God will do us enormous good."

That's all very well and good, Terry Virgo can invite whom he likes to his conference, he is after all a man which I very much respect. However, the issue of choosing Word one year over the Spirit, so as to get a good measure of both, as opposed to having the much needed mixture is not the point of my post today.

My issue is with Mark Driscoll (and fans). I have done some research on this man, and also heard a number of things about him. It would seem that Mark Driscoll whilst he is preaching, likes to make jokes about certain people in society, jokes which sadly only he and his fans find amusing. I believe he does this to appear modern and "with it" (as a 24 year old, that is a phrase I would never use, but I feel it emphasises the point here).

On the website of Mr Driscoll's home church, you can vote for which topic you would like him to preach on in January. Some of them are very sound theological discussions, some are not. One question, which until very recently sat at the number one spot, just had me astounded, especially when I read the comments left on it:

"Why do you make jokes about mormon missionaries, homosexuals, trenchcoats wearers, single men, vegans, emo kids and then expect these groups to come to know God in the same sermon?"

Now I've got no problem with people making jokes, so long as they're actually funny, but it's the manner in which one makes these jokes and who they are made about.
On the one hand, I suppose it would be fairly interesting to hear Mark Driscoll's response to this: on the other hand I feel this would enrage me even further.

Some of the examples in the question are just down right daft (trenchcoat wearers, single men, vegans and emo kids), so please go ahead and get a laugh out of what I believe is a rather young crowd at Mark Driscoll's church. However the others, which have in the past also included prostitutes and drug users, are not in slightest bit funny and have absolute minimum comedy value.

To make fun of prostitutes and drug users, who feel the only way to survive life is by selling their bodies or injecting substances into themselves; or to make fun of gay men and women who may be genuinely struggling with their sexuality because the church tells them it's wrong, just says to me that there is total ignorance going on here.

This is real life. These are peoples lives, and how dare anybody make fun of someone else for the way in which they live their lives. It does not matter whether Mark Driscoll and fans (who are just as guilty for condoning this type of "humour"), agree with the said people's lifestyles; do you think Jesus, whom we strive to be like, made fun of these people? Jesus befriended the outcasts of society, and rather than mocking them, he showed them compassion and love. That is the way to bring people to the Kingdom.

Many of the 'Pastor Mark Crowd' have left many comments defending his style of preaching, saying it to be refreshing, forth-right and un-sugarcoated. There is however a massive difference between making light and poking fun, or making a joke and making a joke at someone else's expense.
I would like to finish with a comment that a young girl left, which really saddedned me, because it makes my point exactly.

"I walked out of Mark's sermon in the middle of church because he made jokes about homosexuals. I was homeless at the time, by myself, 19, and really nervous to be at church where I didn't know anyone. The only people helping me out were my gay friends, and for Mark to stand up there and talk bad about them, it was like a slap in the face, I thought "Who the heck are you? Why on earth would I listen to you? My gay friends are showing me so much love when everyone else in the world has turned their back." I was so dissapointed. I got up and left and cried all the way walking home."