Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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Alistair Shaw

Here’s How Christians Give Jesus A Bad Name

It’s no secret that people are leaving the Church in record numbers, and although they may not all be rejecting Jesus, they are surely saying no to the faith that bears His name—for many reasons.

I spend a great deal of my time listening to many of these folks, and they educate me. Based on what I’ve learned from nearly two decades in church ministry, here are some ways we Christians are obscuring Jesus and hurting people, and severely damaging our testimony in the world in the process:

1. Vilifying Non-Christians

In the face of attrition and growing public ambivalence, too many Christians lazily lean back on attack language and war rhetoric, especially with those deemed outsiders (i.e. non-Christians or Christians who don’t fit within a narrow framework of appearance, conduct and belief system).

This continued manufacturing of an encroaching enemy is designed to rally the shrinking bases, but it’s also something young people are seeing from a mile away—and rejecting outright. They want and deserve a Christianity that is primarily known for benevolence, not for violence.

2. Marrying Jesus and Politics

This generation seeks a faith that is not drawn along stark political lines. They rightly want a Jesus that can’t fit comfortably within any presidential platform or voting block.

If our religion is going truly to be as big as we say God is, it has to transcend our man-made political systems and we need to speak about our faith in light of this. If we ever hope to reflect Christ accurately to the world, we have to allow His distinct message to exist independently from our partisan affiliations.

3. Worshiping Christian Celebrity.

People live on Twitter, and they understand celebrity worship. They engage in blind hero-worship as effortlessly as breathing, and yet they want the Church to be different. They expect something in faith communities that doesn’t always mirror the culture.

But for all our talk about “Making Jesus Famous” and “lifting up the name of the Lord,” Christians often shower superstar pastors, celebrity worship leaders and lauded Christian writers with all sorts of misplaced adulation and excessive notoriety that are all little more than sanctified idolatry. We need to redirect our hearts above the platform and pulpit.

4. Defending Our Misdeeds

The recent Ashley Madison hacking and the Duggar family scandals have once again revealed that not only are those Christians who crusade most vocally on “morality issues” often the most broken, but that we individually and collectively are pretty lousy about accepting responsibility when we fail—especially when we do so sexually.

In response to revealed indiscretions, we invariably see disgraced followers of Jesus blaming everything from pornography to the media to immodest dress to the Devil himself, instead of simply admitting that we’re all jacked-up messes, and we fall regularly too.

The sentence that could change so much but the one that we so often refuse to say to the world: It’s my fault, and I’m sorry.

5. Defiantly Refusing to Grow

Though the past 20 years has allowed an unfathomable amount of discovery, large portions of Christianity have often either pushed back or turned a blind eye to it all. We’ve learned so much about how the universe works and how our brains function, yet The Church too often seems unable or unwilling to incorporate such things into their theology and instead simply ignores it.

If our faith doesn’t embrace Science and adequately course-correct based on what we now know to be true about the world, it will become obsolete to the world.

6. Misusing The Bible

When it comes to the amount of damage so-called Christians have done in the world, the Bible is sadly the deadliest weapon of choice. We use it to justify wars and to perpetuate injustice and bloody those we disagree with.

We’ve ripped it from context, appropriated it for our own political agendas, selectively enforced it and brutally bashed people over the head with it—and this generation has grown weary of it all. They will not tolerate a Christianity that uses the Bible like a hammer, unless it is to build something useful.

As I said, many people aren’t really rejecting Jesus. Even many of the most nonreligious folks finds Him admirable, wise and worthy of great respect. They often respond quite well to His teachings and life example, however, they don’t find many touch points between those things and the Church that bears His name.

If we continue to move our religion away from the humility and compassion and diversity we see in the Gospels, people are going to keep saying No.

You don’t have to agree with these perceptions, but they are the ones held by a growing multitude who have grown weary of a faith tradition that seems to have lost the plot. I still believe when someone purely encounters Jesus that he or she is changed forever, yet more and more, that is not who they are encountering when they walk through church doors.

May we look in the mirror and abandon any arrogance and pride and fear that keeps us from allowing ourselves to be individually and corporately renovated, until the clearest image of Jesus is revealed in us.

If You Don’t Use It, Lose It

If you don’t use it, lose it

I have often heard it said that one should always throw out unused junk.  In fact, it’s been said that if something has stood collecting dust for the past 6 months and you haven’t used it, chances are you never will.  I think I tend to agree with that statement, yet I’m far too sentimental to just chuck stuff of value away, even though I don’t always use it.  What about that ‘rainy day’?  I might just need it.

When it comes to relationships, it’s a very similar situation.  Not in the sense that if you haven’t used a friend for the past 6 months you should toss them; but rather the realization that here are two types of relationships in this word, those that are healthy, and those that are toxic.

If you find yourself surrounded by negative people who are constantly bringing you down and adding very little value to your life, or possibly even corrupting you, I strongly suggest revising your circle of influence and begin distancing yourself from them.  If you however are that negative person who is toxifying everyone else, then this should serve as a wake up call to you that it’s time to do some serious introspection and begin gravitating towards positive people who you’d allow to shape and mold you into becoming a better person!

Earlier I mentioned that I am far too sentimental to just simply discard old stuff I never use, although lately I have been working hard at chucking out the junk.  Last year I experienced a very difficult betrayal from a mentor and a very good friend.  Cutting them out of my life was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but the most liberating one at that.

For me, positivity begins with a relationship with Jesus, one where I’m constantly reading scripture which encourages me to become more Christlike and far less ‘me-like’.

If you need to cut certain things out of your life because you believe they’re harming you, please click the banner below and contact us today!

TWELVE24 From The Ground Up Album Launch

Hailing from three different continents, TWELVE24 are as global as their sound. A fusion of feel-good pop, euphoric dance and technical rap, their music transcends borders, sounding as fresh anywhere on the planet as it does in their home town of Manchester, UK

It’s no wonder that the band has spent the last eight years building a loyal fan-base on stages from Manchester to arenas around the world. As well as playing every corner of the UK, they have performed in Denmark, Finland, France, Lithuania, Norway, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden and the United States.TWELVE24’s music has scored comparisons to Macklemore (for his deep lyrical content and independence) and Calvin Harris (for his euphoric dance style). But ultimately, the band’s sound is entirely their own. They are fiercely protective of their artistic vision, writing and producing all their tracks themselves, with the help of a close team of studio collaborators. Their music is inspired by their personal stories, cultural relevancy and positive, inspiring message.

All this is confirmed by their latest release, single Higher. The radio release – and its subsequent remixes – features Deronda K. Lewis, an American gospel singer and former member of the World Wide Message Tribe, who TWELVE24 cite as a massive inspiration as they grew up.album cover

Album Launch

Higher’s self-produced music video won MTV’s ‘The Freshmen’ viewer vote on college channel mtvU and was played on full rotation for six weeks. It was later picked up MTV Latin America, MTV Hits, the California Music Channel and others. The single’s release came on the back of the success of TWELVE24’s first full-length album, Tell The Truth (2012). Released free, it received over 20,000 downloads, a quarter of which came in the first month. The three videos from the album racked up over 200,000 views via Vevo.

Twelve24 are taking over the month of October with a huge headlining show at The Ritz in Manchester to launch their new album on the 12th October. Special guests include: LZ7, Faithchild, Geek Boy, Brightline, and many more! On the 24th October the digital (itunes, spotify, apple music, amazon etc) release will go online worldwide.

Check out this awesome interview with TWELVE24 speaking about their faith and their relationship with Jesus – very inspiring!

How To Get Unstuck

We all feel stuck at some point in our lives. This often happens when we stop listening to ourselves, most especially our spirits. Simple messages that include play and adventure get easily tossed to the side when you’re living a responsible and busy life. The routine of life that includes work, taking care of family and paying the bills can make us feel automatic and uninspired. The pressure to perform and succeed can also keep us stuck. Self-talk that begins with “I have to… ” and “I should… ” is born from the language of stuckness. It shows us where we feel obligated to direct our energy.

We all know when we are stuck. Being stuck is an inner feeling. It feels stagnant, immobilizing even oppressive. It can be uncomfortable and lead to feelings of sadness and depression. Perhaps we’re secretly waiting for something to happen: a lucky break or a miracle. We wonder if a higher power is watching us, or if the winds of change will move in our favor. We do this, instead of embracing the change that needs to occur within us.

Being stuck serves a spiritual purpose. It is fertile ground for transformation to occur. It tells you that a change is needed. More than recognition or fortune or any kind of external change, what’s really being asked of you is an internal change. It could be a change of heart, change of priorities or even a change of perspective. When we are stuck we are being invited to grow and expand. What worked before doesn’t work anymore and it’s up to us to see where we can let go and open.

Here’s how to get unstuck:

1. Take risks. Have you been operating within your comfort zone? It could be that you need to take your life or work to the next level. Are you keeping yourself small in any way? Notice what truly gives you a deeper sense of joy and excitement. Is there something new you’d like to do but haven’t dared to do yet?

2. Let go of the past. Our past can keep us chained and bound. Are you thinking about events that have already happened? What limiting beliefs do you keep reinforcing from the past? Saying things like, “I can’t do that because I don’t have enough money,” or “That would be impossible because I’ve never done that before,” can keep us where we are. Don’t let what’s happened hold you back. See if there is anyone you need to forgive, and if that person is yourself.

3. Change it up. Inner change naturally creates outer change. Do you take the same route to work every day? Do you eat at the same restaurants and visit the same places? Go to new venues. Change your furniture around. Add something new to your desk. Change the way you show up and move through life.

4. Change your relationship to being stuck. Do you resist resistance? What if you changed your relationship to feeling stuck? What if you allowed it to be okay just as it is? When we change our relationship to what we feel, we release our own resistance to it and it naturally begins to shift and transform. Instead of making it wrong or bad to feel stuck, let yourself be fully present to the feeling of being stuck. When you stop making it wrong, it stops feeling so bad. Let go of being too hard on yourself.

5. Ask yourself, “Am I ignoring an inner calling?” Oftentimes we receive guidance about our next steps but choose not to listen to our ‘inner messages’. This guidance often comes in the form of a quiet still inner voice. This voice can be easily drowned out by the noise of our everyday life, our peers, or even our own inner demons. Is there something you’ve been called to do, but haven’t done?

6. Move and play. Being immersed in movement and play really gets the flow of energy moving in your body and your life. Try a new way of moving: dancing, racquetball. Go see a comedy. Paint. Play Twister or Monopoly. Whatever it is, let yourself be free without restriction. What are the silly, playful things that you don’t usually make time for? Giving yourself time to play and unwind can make an immense difference in bringing new energy into your life.

7. Ask yourself, “What am I not paying attention to?” What are the things in your life that you’re quietly ignoring? Have you noticed any patterns in your lifestyle or relationships? Oftentimes, it’s the very things that are in front of us that can cause our biggest blocks. Notice if you put off things that are healthy for you, or would allow you to advance in your life. Are you being really honest about the way you feel? Are there relationships you need to address that could be holding you back?

Being stuck is often a symptom. It is a symptom that your life is about to change, or that a change is needed. Imagine two rivers that confluence towards a greater body of water. At times, one of the rivers may grow narrow or appear to lack flow before breaking through to a bigger body of water. This often happens to us when we’re ready to make a bigger life change. The flow contracts before it expands. The contraction, too, serves a purpose.

Let yourself be in the stuckness without resisting. Shift your relationship it by being aware without judgment. Allow yourself to enjoy new experiences without expectation. Embrace the change.

Credit: Edited // Huffington Post

Light Camera L16

We all enjoy taking photos. In fact, for those who are on Instagram or other photography networks, taking the best shot or the most creative shot could ‘make or break’ us.

10 years ago, give or take, we were all hopeful for a DSLR camera for awesome shots, because back then phones didn’t really take the best pics.  Now we have super smartphones with amazing cameras which seem to do a fairly good job, as long as you don’t have to zoom in too far.

Imagine the convenience of having a DSLR camera the size of a smartphone, with functionality and lens capabilities, much like that of a professional stand alone camera?!

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Well, now, you don’t have to look any further.  A group of highly intelligent people got together and developed an awesome invention – Light L16.  Here is some of the specs you can look forward to:

  • 16 individual cameras, 10 of which will fire simultaneously
  • Up to 52 megapixels
  • Depth of field up to f/1.2
  • Build in 35-150mm true optical zoom
  • RAW format enabled
  • On board editing
  • Wi-Fi enabled

Taking photos just got a whole lot more fun and convenient!

Check out a demo vid here:

The Dark Void Around You

Motivational speakers seem to be popping up everywhere these days and I think it’s great!  We live in dark days, and if there are those out there who are encouraging us to better ourselves and helping us to live life large, then why not?!

But this got me thinking: why are we so in need of constant upliftment? Why the need for life-coaching and ‘feel-good’ messages?

It dawned on me, we seem to be living in days when sin is rife and a large portion of society are speaking doom and gloom; social media is overpopulated with negativity, and being the obedient humans that we are, we simply follow the crowd and allow ourselves to be sucked into the dark void.

I recently came across a very inspirational Facebook blurb by Les Brown where he said quite a few challenging statements, which really got me thinking…

les brown

God intended for us to live great lives, lives full of His goodness and greatness!  I think far too often we ourselves are to blame for the dark voids we find ourselves in, simply because we don’t fight back, take charge and make the change or better, be the change.

If you feel stuck and need a breakthrough please click on the banner below and contact us today!

ACPAD Wireless Midi Controller For Acoustic Guitars

Every solo acoustic guitarist dreams of that perfect orchestral backing with the cutting edge electronic sound added to the mix.  Now, for the first time ever you can have all the tools at your fingertips on a 2mm thick pad which attached to your acoustic guitar, and it’s wireless!

The ACPAD story

ACPAD was born out of necessity. A need for flexibility, live stability and creative freedom. Berlin musician Robin Sukroso needed a piece of equipment that would allow him to bring his love of both electronic and acoustic music together; that could withstand playing every night, that was easy and intuitive to play, and that could let him explore an entirely new world of sound.

The ACPAD began as an idea and a desire. After 3 years of research, development and a lot of trials, the ACPAD is finally ready for the world. Sukroso along with his partners at IIT Bombay (India) created a new 2 mm thick interface having no wires or screws, a stick-on wireless MIDI controller that is powered by a rechargeable battery. ACPAD is a device with true portability and tonal versatility.

The ACPAD allows players to blend both acoustic and electronic sounds with FX and assignable tap pads. Create whatever sound you want with ACPAD. It is strong, flexible and offers a new world of creativity you have been looking for. ACPAD is an electronic orchestra in your hands!

Check out the demo:

Credit: ACPAD

Hope Is A Powerful Thing

Hope is a powerful thing!  It is the silent force behind a winning attitude.  Have you ever encountered a person with great passion for life and exuberant vibrancy for their future?  The secret to their drive will certainly include a healthy dose of hope.  Obviously there are many factors that influence and affect our behaviour and attitude towards life in general; hope plays a large part of that.

In the world war, one of the main objectives of Adolf Hitler was to strip the people of their hope, because hope deferred makes the heart sick, and when the heart is sick, the soul does not prosper!

But give someone hope, real, tangible hope, and you will see a complete attitude change.  Hope for a better future, a better career or a better living environment – you’ll certainly see a 180 degree turn in attitude.

Hope can also be a very dangerous thing.  If you constantly make empty promises you will break someone’s dreams.  And with every lie you tell and every promise you make of future change, the less people will trust you and the more they will come to despise hope; and they will eventually hate you.

I have experienced misguided hope and it ain’t cool.  When I first experienced false hope some years back, it really hurt and it temporarily destroyed me, mostly because I trusted the person who constantly disappointed me.  But when I took my eyes of people and I placed my hope in Jesus, I had a major change in attitude.  I realized that people will constantly disappoint, even I have and will continue to disappoint.  If I make a promise and instill hope in someone, then come what may, I will deliver and I will make big on my promise.

God never disappoints and He never will.  When scripture speaks about the promises of God and the hope He brings, it’s always spot on and He always follows through.

If you need real hope in your life, please click on the banner below and contact us today.

Stress Management Explained

I was trawling around Facebook recently and discovered this very interesting article.  It explains in layman’s terms, how stress affects us and the long term effects of it:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “halfempty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”

Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”

Remember to put the glass down.

(Courtesy of Jimmy Harmon)

If you’re battling to manage your stress, please click on the banner below and contact us today!

What Difficulties Of Life Teach Us

The end might just be the start of something new.

In life we go through many different situations which may or may not feel like a pleasant experience.  We win a competition we’ve entered and we’re on top of the world, we land a dream job and we’re ecstatic or we get married and we’re over the moon with happiness!

Then there are days when we hear we’ve lost our jobs, or a family member or close friend has passed away, or someone really close to you has stabbed you in the back and almost destroyed your life – these are heart-wrenching experiences which, at the time, seem like the worst experiences ever and they often force us to question where God was in the situation, who our true friends are and cause us to do some real introspection.

These difficulties in life have the power to destroy us if we let them, or they can strengthen us, develop our character and make us better versions of ourselves.

Perspective is such a powerful thing.  I recently saw a short video clip on Facebook which at first looked like a painting, but then the camera zoomed out and started moving to the right, and suddenly I noticed it was actually a 3D sculpture which was made up of many different materials, which on their own made no sense, but when viewed from the centre, through the eyepiece provided, it then looked like a perfect picture.

Your life might seem like hundreds of fragmented pieces scattered in all directions, but if you look closely you’ll notice they all form part of who you are and make you unique.  Remember, your bad experiences don’t have to define you and you certainly don’t have to be governed by them.  When bad things happen to me I choose to entrust them into God’s very capable hands and I choose to learn from them because there are valuable lessons to be learned in hard times.

If you’re in need of courage for a difficult situation you might be facing and need God to lead you and give you courage, please click on the banner below and contact us today!

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