The Day I Picked Up An Escaped Convict That Helped me Find my True Self

When I was on a 6-hour road trip back to university I picked up a hitchhiker.

It was cold and wintery as I turned a corner on the Desert road and I saw a young man with his thumb stuck out. Thin, short hair and poorly clothed for the winter, I felt concern for him.

I pulled my little Mini over and offered him a ride.

I asked where he was going off we went. He didn’t say much but eventually, we arrived at my student flat.

After dinner, I then offered him a bed for the night which was gratefully received. In the morning he was off and I let him have my jersey.

I thought nothing of it, then things started to fall into place, Continue reading “The Day I Picked Up An Escaped Convict That Helped me Find my True Self”

When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5

When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help.

At the school where I grow vegetables, it can be very noisy. I have a group of children that love to help and to get my attention they will often speak louder, and wave hands like windmills. It can all be a bit overwhelming.

The other day the noise was particularly loud. I happened to look to my left and here was this young boy quietly getting on and picking up some old leaves that we had discarded. Quietly without anyone noticing he did the work.

We think that if we do more we will get more. If we turn up the volume, literally and figuratively, of the worship God’s ears will be pleased. Continue reading “When God has left the building, turning up the volume won’t help: Toxic Faith pt. 5”

To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4

To Heal You Just Need to 'Forget What Lies Behind'

Life has a tragic way of repeating itself. It seems at times that we just go round an endless loop of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Then someone says ‘forget what lies behind’.

One of my favourite classic movies is Groundhog day with a very young Bill Murray.

Weatherman Phil Connors is sent to cover the first day of spring in a small town called  Punxsutawney.  At night he goes to bed and then wakes to the alarm going off at 6 am.

It’s not 6 am the next day, but weirdly 6 am of the same day. He gets the opportunity to live the same day over and over and over again until he gets it right.  Continue reading “To Heal You Just Need to ‘Forget What Lies Behind’: Toxic Faith pt. 4”

The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3

THE DANGER OF TURNING A SINNER INTO A ‘SAVIOUR’: TOXIC FAITH PT. 3

It’s always dangerous when we subconsciously create a ‘saviour’ out of a sinner. If you stand too close to the pedestal, of a venerated statue, you’ll get damaged by the cracks.

I always cringed when someone would call me ‘Pastor Barry’. If possible I would always ask them to never do this again. I would say ‘My name is Barry, and part of who I am, is I am a pastor’.

I don’t want to be considered as more special, pastoral or have a certain status than anyone else. We are all priests. Sure I may specific gifts and training that helped me to pastor, but in the end, Christ won’t welcome ‘Pastor Barry’ home, instead, it will simply be ‘Welcome Barry, good and faithful servant’.

I also know that this small step of veneration is a little step towards a slippery slope of them making me into a sub-conscious ‘saviour’. It can also fuel pride in myself, and who needs that.

We see it politics, sports, entertainment, business and the church. The extolling of someone to the heights of a type of worship.

It’s kind of like a teenage crush.

Continue reading “The Danger of Turning a Sinner into a ‘Saviour’: Toxic Faith Pt. 3”

Just waiting for an ‘Anointing’ to wash my problems away: Toxic Faith pt 2

Just waiting for an 'Anointing' to wash my problems away

We are all like druggies, wanting that quick fix to kill the pain.

Be it a drug, some porn, a sale, a comfort food, an altar call, a dose of the ghost (Holy Spirit), or a faith formula to get what we want. Anything, just anything to avoid going deep, facing our sinfulness, repenting and making the change.

Maybe they had seen too many telly Evangelists. They told me they had been to multiple healing services and now they had come to me and wanted me to ‘pray the demons out of them’. When I said that I would like to know more about them, they stormed out of the room and asked the passing caretaker to pray for them. He looked kind of shocked and puzzled. Continue reading “Just waiting for an ‘Anointing’ to wash my problems away: Toxic Faith pt 2”

Want to Forgive? You’ll Unlock it with Compassion

Want to Forgive-compassion-mental-health

You think you have forgiven, but now and then anger bubbles up. You try and stuff it back in its box, but you know that its whisper is still fuming around your heart. Perhaps you need to discover compassion.

A step that is unusual and not what you naturally want to offer, but contains a promise of release that I’ve experienced and you can too if you pray a dangerous prayer.

Meet Smudge.
Continue reading “Want to Forgive? You’ll Unlock it with Compassion”

I’ll Get Strong With A Little Help From My Friends

friends-activity-builds-mental-health

Meeting with others on a regular basis builds strength and resilience in our Mental Health. Friends build each other up to be strong.

I wasn’t expecting any great life changing moments happening in this small group of three people. As they talked I could see that they were increasingly feeling comfortable with each other. They all had similar backgrounds and struggles and as they shared, the privacy walls dropped and they started to talk deep.

One of the quieter ones felt safe enough to ask a question, and then another. Soon others felt safe enough to ask ‘silly questions’. There were huge moments of life changing discovery. Continue reading “I’ll Get Strong With A Little Help From My Friends”

True or False? Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Cleanliness-Godliness-body-hygiene-mental-health-body

That little phrase ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ is not actually in the Bible. In fact, Jesus had a rant about those who equated having the body externally clean with being close to God.

In Jesus words they were like ‘manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh’

And yet I have a body, created by God, for a purpose and I believe how I treat my body does have an intimate connection to my wellness.

I’ve seen the extremes. Continue reading “True or False? Cleanliness is next to Godliness”

Mental Health Grows When we Have a Routine

Mental-Health-Grows-When-we-Have-a-Routine-Spiritual-formation

It was my routine that I had built up over the years that got me through the dark morning. Do you have a routine?

Ever had one of those mornings where you just don’t want to face the day. You’re sort of glued to the bed. It’s a safe, warm and secure place, and you just want to go back to sleep if possible because well it’s better than listening to the depressing or anxious thoughts trawling through your mind. The black dog of depression is cuddled up beside you and you don’t want to face the day. It’s a routine that can so easily become a rut. Continue reading “Mental Health Grows When we Have a Routine”

Mental Health Grows Through Little By Little Dance Steps

Mental-Health-Grows-Through-Little-By-Little-Dance-Steps

Spiritual Formation that changes our Mental Health is found through ‘Little by little’ dance steps with God.

‘Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.’

With these words, Richard foster begins chapter one of his classic best-selling book ‘Celebration of Discipline’.

I remember reading this classic 37 years ago. That superficiality, that desire for instant satisfaction is still with us and is still a primary spiritual problem.

Are you ok with going deep?

I remember as a child watching my parents have daily devotions together. They would read a portion of The Reaper, a daily devotional put together by various lecturers of a local Bible college, then I imagine they prayed together. Continue reading “Mental Health Grows Through Little By Little Dance Steps”