I know a few Christians who keep Sunday special- so much so they don’t even bother going to church – so I was amazed to read about Dan Walker one of the new faces of the BBC’s football coverage. Dan will not work on a Sunday because he is a devout Christian. This took me back to the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire (who ended up playing or was it refereeing football on Sunday as a POW ) and of the early days of triple jumper Jonathan Edwards (who now is not even sure he believes in God). In today’s edition of The Sun newspaper
Dan is reported as saying “When first told the producers on a major radio station I wouldn’t work on a Sunday they told me I’d never get anywhere in broadcasting. They thought the fact that I said on my CV that I wouldn’t work on a Sunday was some kind of joke. When I explained I was a Christian, and why I felt the way I did, one of them just sat with his mouth open for about ten seconds. Hand of God … Sunday ban It was a great job and they fully expected me to give up everything to work for them, but I wouldn’t – I didn’t get the job. I take my faith quite seriously and not working on a Sunday is part of that. I don’t even watch football on a Sunday.”
Dan firmly believes that Sunday is time for spending at church with his family and gives some background to his decision; “When I was 12, and about 2ft taller than all the other kids, I was asked to play for quite a few teams. The problem was all their games were on a Sunday. I had only recently become a Christian and this was the first time I was confronted with the issue of how I should be spending my Sundays. I firmly believe God was using that experience, even at an early age, to prepare me for situations in the future when I would need much stronger convictions. People often say it must be really hard to be a Christian and to do the work I do – I disagree. Special I think my job puts me in the same situations everyone else faces. The only difference is that people who work in the media are usually paid to have opinions so you can get involved in some heated debates.”
He accepts his stand is not a position all Christians would take; “Many people – even Christians – have asked me why I feel so strongly about the Lord’s Day. For me it seems quite obvious. God, our creator, has given it to us for our own good. Some will argue that Jesus Christ’s coming means we are no longer obligated to keep it special but I fundamentally disagree. There are still ten commandments and it is more important than ever to guard the fourth one – remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
In the film Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell (who switched from the 100 metres because he refused to run on a Sunday) is handed a piece of paper by the American Sprinter Jackson Schultz as Liddell is settling down to run the final of the 400 metres written on it were the words “The Lord says he that honours me I will honour.” Liddell went on to win the race and the gold medal against the odds. There is no doubt that in the world of sports broadcasting Dan Walker is winning against the prevailing tide- let’s hope he makes it to the better ground he has staked out for himself and that his stand doesn’t become a millstone like so many others have found.
Today sees the launch of a community audit I am leading – A Church4U? at an event based in a local school, followed by a church service focused on the story of the road to Emmaus. The focus of the audit is to use surveys, focus group and films to discover the heart and soul of the area- a place with two distinctive christian communities yet no dedicated church building. We hope to discover what residents, and those working in the community, understand church to be, and also if they want to be part of a vision that will establish a multi-use church building as much about community service and a place to be as a venue for Sunday worship.
After the death of Jesus the disciples lost heart and hope. Their Rabbi and leader had died and they were devastated and had little idea of what to do next other than to return to their former lives. It was as if that previous three years had counted for nothing. On the Road to Emmaus Jesus revealed the truth of his mission to them and they learned that they would receive power through the Holy Spirit. They would gain hope and a new mission and would have some story to share- a story destined to turn the world on its head. Today two churches will meet in a community centre without any outward visible sign that they are church. I will be asking them about how many people they are walking with every day on their own road to Emmaus and how these strangers or friends will be able to catch a glimpse of Jesus?
For a previous post on a related topic see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/13/now-you-see-me-now-you-dont/
It’s not often when reading the Guardian you get what seems to be the beginning of a joke; “what do you get when you put a Muslim imam, a Greek Orthodox priest, a rabbi, a Buddhist monk and 10 atheists in the same room?” The article went on to say that Turkish television are broadcasting a new reality Tv show in which, ” contestants will ponder whether to believe or not to believe when they pit their godless convictions against the possibilities of a new relationship with the almighty on Penitents Compete (Tovbekarlar Yarisiyor in Turkish)”
Four spiritual guides from a range of religions will seek to convert at least one of the 10 atheists in each programme to their faith and those persuaded will be rewarded with a pilgrimage to the spiritual home of their newly chosen creed – Mecca for Muslims, Jerusalem for Christians and Jews, and Tibet for Buddhists. According to the programme makers one aim of the show is to promote religious belief and to expose Turkey’s overwhelmingly Muslim population about other faiths. That programme’s advertising slogans make some bold claims which include “We give you the biggest prize ever: we represent the belief in God” and “You will find serenity in this competition”.
Only true non-believers need apply. An eight-strong commission of theologians will assess the atheist credentials of would-be contestants before deciding who should take part. Converts will be monitored to ensure their religious transformation is genuine and not simply a ruse to gain a free foreign trip. “They can’t see this trip as a getaway, but as a religious experience,” Ozdemir said. The programme, which is scheduled to air in September, has been criticised by commentators and religious figures for trivialising God and faith.
What’s your final answer or do you need to phone a friend?
Full the full story see http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/02/turkey-penitents-compete-gameshow
Teenagers say family, friends, money, music and even reality television are more important than religion according to a recent survey of a 1,000 13-18 year-olds by Penguin books undertaken to mark the publication of Kevin Brooks’ novel Killing God. What have we done when six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”?
The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church. The controversial new book is about a 15-year-old girl who questions the existence of God. Kevin Brooks, the author, said: “I can’t say I am surprised by the teenagers’ responses. “Part of the reason that I wrote Killing God was that I wanted to explore the personal attitudes of young people today, especially those with troubled lives, towards organised religion and the traditional concept of God. “How can the moralities of an ancient religion relate to the tragedies and disorders of today’s broken world? And why do some people turn to God for help while others take comfort in drugs and alcohol? “These are just some of the questions I wanted to consider… And I wasn’t looking for answers.” The research also found 55 per cent of young people are not bothered about religion and 60 per cent only go to church for a wedding or christening. Only three out of 10 teenagers believe in an afterlife and 41 per cent believe that nothing happens to your body when you die, but one in 10 reckon they come back as an animal or another human being.
A the Church of England is looking to cut its budget for youth mission work a spokesman said: “Many teenagers aren’t sure what they believe at that stage of their lives, as is clear from the number who said they don’t know whether they believe in God. “On the other hand many of these results point to the great spirituality of young people today that the Church is seeking to respond to through new forms of worship alongside tradition ones.”
Today a new site Make Jesus Famous is launched- http://www.makejesusfamous.org.uk/. Let’s help it generate the ideas, commitment and inspiration to reach out to to those who really don’t know or care about Christ. Let’s give them a message of hope, new life, love and transformation. Let’s be the miracle to them.
For the full article on this story see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5603096/Two-thirds-of-teenagers-dont-believe-in-God.html
Andy Warhol said we could all be famous for 15 minutes, but what could you do to help make Jesus better known? A new website Make Jesus Famous launches tomorrow Tuesday – 30th June. It would be brilliant if everyone who read this blogchecked it out and registered their ‘idea’ for sharing faith in their neighbourhood. All you need to do is briefly describe your everyday work … easy! You can then upload your photo or a suitable image, and make it part of the homepage ‘image wall’.
You can pre-register at www.makejesusfamous.org.uk right now, and you will be sent a reminder email on the launch day.
Hopefully, Christians who will inspire each other withtheir ideas, achievements and comments to spread the Good News . This in turn will build an ever-growing evangelism resource, harnessing the Christian creativity at work throughout the nation. If you ask why does Jesus need making famous?- the answer was given in a piece of research published only a couple of days ago when it was reported that a fifth of the population have no idea about the death and resurrection stories of Jesus.
Give it a try! Please help us Make Jesus Famous by pre-registering today. Many thanks – you will make a huge difference if you take part.
Over the past few months I have listened to scores of people about the nature of how God calls us into ministry and service. I have personally found it really unsettling experiencing God guiding me into situations in which I am personally uncomfortable; yet once there -channeling something of God’s purpose and love to others. It has been a process of breaking me down and rebuilding me, slowly and gradually to appreciate that when I do things in God’s strength rather than mine amazing things can happen out of simple conversations. It has made me realise just how unfinished I am as a Christian, and also how complacent I have been for decades. I know that I still don’t take enough risks for the gospel. I now appreciate that feeling challenged and unsettled is something I have to get used to as I work out, if I can, the nature of God’s inescapable call.
Nick Fawcett puts this well in his Daily Prayer book- a constant companion of mine:
“Gracious God, I thanks you for your call: the invitation to be part of the work of your kingdom. I thank you that you welcome me as I am- with all my faults and doubts- and that though I fail you repeatedly, still you want to use me in your service. Gracious God, I praise you for that inescapable sense of call that you give; help me to respond. In the name of Christ. Amen.”
I hope this is a prayer we can all say.
In the UK just 18 of the more than 300 commercial radio stations broadcast a regular religious show, an all-time low for on-air spiritual content, according to Whistling Frog Productions. This past week I was at a conference which was focusing on the impact church and faith issues can have within a media culture obsessed by celebrity. Maybe God goss.com provides part of the answer. God Goss.comis a new and developing brand based around a weekly, one-minute “showbiz”-style bulletin of fun and serious religious and Christian news. It aims to amuse, inform and give faith a bit of a fairer press than it sometimes gets. At the moment the bulletin is broadcast on Heart 103 and Heart 96.3 Cambridge and Bristol- you can check out the sound files yourself at http://www.godgoss.com/
If you can see a use for GodGoss.com in helping to gossip the gospel on your local radio station then get in touch and I’ll pass on your comments to the team. If it’s not the sort of thing that appeals to you, but you can see the impact it can achieve then please add the GodGoss.com team to your prayer list.