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Was watching an episode of West Wing tonight with my son, Jonathan. I’ve got a feeling most of it passed over little Jonny’s head given that he’s only 2 weeks old today, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you.

The episode was called ‘Disaster Relief’ (episode 6, Season 5) and in it President Bartlet responds to a disaster in Oklahoma. He’s persuaded to personally visit the disaster site by his press secretary, C.J. Cregg, though as his visit starts to move beyond the 6 hours planned (they end up being 20+ hours over schedule) C.J. is less than impressed.

Why?

It comes down to her view of leadership.

Her reason for wanting Bartlet to visit was to show the country that the President cares about people. But as he starts to spend time just listening to people’s stories, even stooping so low as to help with the washing up, C.J. is uncomfortable with what this is saying. She impresses upon him that he must be first out at the memorial service – she wants a President who ‘leads’, who is strong, who is at the front, not one who washes pots and pans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can you look your friends in the eye and say ‘I don’t care… that you reject Jesus and are heading towards hell’?

It struck me today that that can be effectively what we’re saying when we don’t pray for our friends, when we’re not intentional about looking for opportunities to speak about Jesus, or when we avoid talking about Jesus. That can be what we’re effectively saying when we don’t get to know the Bible well so that we can share the story of God with people. That can be effectively what we’re saying when we don’t have Jesus ready on our lips, when we don’t serve others because of a commitment to our own comfort…

But I imagine few of us have the consistency and integrity to actually look our friends in the eye and say ‘I don’t care…’

Obviously that’s not the only option. If we don’t want to look our friends in the eye and say those chilling words, perhaps we need to actually care about them. We need to pray more consistently and with tears for them. We need to learn our Bible, to be speaking the gospel to each other so we’re ready to speak it to others. We need to rejoice in the truth so that others hear it. We need to serve as Jesus served so they see it.

Then we can look our friends in the eye and say ‘I do care…’

Lord may this be true of me.

This is likely to come across as a rant, but it’s something I picked up on years ago and I thought it was worth sharing with you all, in the hope that it might help.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone where it seems pretty clear they are not listening to you and they’d rather not be there…? They keep looking past you as you’re talking, it seems, in the hope that someone more interesting and perhaps more worthy will walk past and they can excuse themselves and go talk to that VIP (Very Interesting Person).

Sadly I’ve found myself doing that in the past, and also encountered many church leaders who do that here in England. In fact, its mainly church leaders that I’ve found doing that, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps its only me. Perhaps there’s a very good reason they keep looking past me to find that VIP… but maybe I’m not the only one.

If this is more widespread than just me, then it is very concerning. Being a church leader is about the people. It is about loving and caring for them. And it seems (at least from the way Jesus did it) that its about caring for the least of them – and not chasing after the VIP.

On the flip side when I was younger Frank Retief, the South Africa Bishop came over to me – we had met a few times before so it wasn’t a first meeting. But he put a firm hand on my shoulder and we chatted. And he kept such eye contact with me that it felt like I was the only person in the room.

That made a huge impact on me, and so I’ve tried since to look at people when talking to them. And even if a real VIP should walk past I will try and not look at them and give my full attention to that person.

So – if it looks like I’m staring at you with a slightly crazed look – that’s why. And if I look away from you and don’t seem interested, please, please, give me a quick kick in the shins.

The Crowded House have a new website… Take a look… there’s various new resources and it also gives you a better glimpse of TCH as a group of networks…

www.thecrowdedhouse.org

Also check out the Gospel Priority Areas page and maybe come plant with us?

You may have heard about the new advert that was aired on Monday 24th May on Channel 4. It’s advertising the services of the private Marie Stopes clinics.

What makes this advert so controversial?

Marie Stopes clinics offer abortions.

Naturally some have responded very negatively to this advert being aired -so a spokeswomen for Life – an anti-abortion group said: “To allow abortion providers to advertise on TV, as though they were no different from car companies or detergent manufacturers, is grotesque.”

What does the advert show?

The 30-second film does not mention the word abortion but asks “Are you late?” and points those facing an unplanned pregnancy to Marie Stopes International’s 24-hour helpline.

Even so, given that they do offer abortions, there is a certain irony that this advert has been deemed to comply with the guidelines that “Ads must adhere to rules that are designed to protect children and vulnerable groups..”

However, in its favour Marie Stopes chief executive Dana Hovig makes a helpful statement: “Last year alone we received 350,000 calls to our 24-hour helpline. Clearly there are hundreds of thousands of women who want and need sexual health information and advice and access to services.”

These issues are real. Read the rest of this entry »

If you’re around please come and help raise money for Chile!

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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