28 Jun 2013

Church and Homosexuality

You may or may not know that I have some pretty "out there" views on the topic of homosexuality. Mainly because I have no idea where I stand. 

As a Christian I have heard from the Church largely that homosexuality is wrong and that it shouldn't be endorsed. As someone who is massively relational, I have many friends who would fall into the homosexual category and who I love a lot. 

So how do I love people properly if I don't care about what they care about. 

Recently you might have seen that Exodus International, a big Anti-Gay organisation actually closed down. It's President Alan Chambers issued an apology to those in the homosexual community. Here is an excerpt -

“Please know that I am deeply sorry,” Chambers wrote in the apology, posted to the organization’s website. “I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite — or worse.

I have had a lot of conversations with friends who have been really hurt by the Church because of their sexuality. It's SO sad. To me I just hate the idea that God's establishment of a Church that would be GOOD NEWS to people, had left many feeling ashamed, unwelcome and unworthy. It's so not what it's supposed to be about. 

Now when we actually get down to it I genuinely don't know what I think is right. I don't know if homosexuality is intrinsically wrong, or if it has been social conditioning that makes me think that. When we get down to what the Bible actually says it is so fuzzy it makes me retreat because I genuinely don't know. 

What I do know is that I serve a God who loves unconditionally. Who hasn't waited for me to change behaviour before he saved me - so why would he do that for anyone else. I serve a God who speaks directly to me and challenges me in his own timing when I do things that he's not happy with. 

As such I don't want to endorse one view or another - I want to be gracious enough to let God speak to me and others about what he actually thinks and go from there. God has spoken to me in the past about this and I think he will continue to do so. He is a personal God - When we ask things, he answers. 

I want to be someone who is a good friend to anyone, whatever they are dealing with, when they listen to my advice and when they don't. Goodness knows I am lucky enough to have friends like that and I think it is the least I can do. 

26 Jun 2013

Old School Films

There are times after a long day when all you really want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch a good film. I love going to the cinema to watch new things, but really, honestly, I love watching dvds I already have because I know there isn't a risk of disappointment. Generally with me, if I own it on dvd I must love it. 

So I have decided to let you know my favourite films...in the hopes that you may well agree with me and then we can spend time exchanging quotes/films moments etc. 

#10. Miss Congeniality - Sandra Bullock as an undercover FBI agent who is posing as a Beauty Queen. Michael Caine also features and is quality! Funny. 

#9. The Shawshank Redemption - A story of brutality, corruption and the hope that lives on. Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman (one of my faves) are main characters. Lots of Christian parallels.

#8. Anchorman - Actually ridiculous film. But full of one-liners that I have been using for ages. Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate star with a hilarious line up of others. "60% of the time it works every time"

#7. Beauty and the Beast - Disney at it's finest! Winner of the Golden Globe for Animated Picture. Great sound track and a film I can recite pretty much word for word. 

#6. Fast and Furious - The first one is amazing and while the ones in the middle vary in quality, the last one (Fast and Furious 6) was really enjoyable. I went to see it at Peckham Multiplex and people were standing a cheering throughout parts of the film and genuinely laughing out loud...it was like those adverts you see! All about cars, girls and racing.

#5. The Proposal - Another with Sandra Bullock, this time with Ryan Reynolds (eye candy) - she is the boss and is forcing him into marrying her so she can stay in the country. Another funny film.

#4. Pride and Prejudice (BBC version) - This 5 hour epic is a MUST-SEE! Just for the comedy value of Mr Collins and Mrs Bennett. Also stars Colin Firth and includes "the lake moment". Another film I can almost quote word for word. Lovely sound track too.

#3. Les Mis - Saw it in the cinema and was taken on an emotional journey - so much so I blogged about it (you can read it here). Love the music and think the cast are great. Could not think of anyone better than Sacha Baren Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter for the roles they play! It's sad but leaves you with hope. 

#2. Sherlock Holmes - This caters to my detective mind. I love it! I love trying to work it out before they tell you and this film is very clever, feeding you snippets of information and not really letting you know the full picture until the end. Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law make it easy on the eyes too. 

#1. 10 Things I Hate About You - My favourite. A film I have loved since my teens! Casting the late Heath Ledger as a lead with Julia Stiles, it is just a mix of hilarity and teen problems. The Dad is immense in it and the sound track is fantastic. It is a film I gladly watch over and over. 

Now you know a bit about my film choices...what do you think?

Have I missed any obvious films off? Or do you agree with these?!

24 Jun 2013

Unconscious Singing

I seem to be one of those people who hum/sing/make noise whenever, wherever, most of the time. It's funny because I didn't really notice it about myself until I moved in with Beth. A lot of the time we'll be sitting in the front room doing work together in the evenings and I'll start humming or making a weird noise without even realising and she'll just laugh at me. 

Maybe it's because I am quite an extrovert and out loud thinker. Maybe it's because I don't really embrace silence; sometimes I can, but mostly I find my head fills with ridiculous thoughts that are neither helpful nor constructive. 

Anyway, today I was on my way to the train station to go into XLP Office and I had probably walked for at least 5 mins before I realised that I was singing a Bethel song called Love Came Down. I mean I wasn't singing it loud, and I'm sure that for part of it at least it was just a song I was singing in my head. But what occurred to me was that I was singing this song quite oblivious to the lyrics I was singing and the truth that I was proclaiming over my life. 

Here are the lyrics - 

  • If my heart is overwhelmed and I cannot hear Your voice
  • I'll hold on to what is true though I cannot see
  • If the storms of life they come and the road ahead gets steep
  • I will lift these hands in faith, I will believe
  • I remind myself of all that You've done
  • And the life I have because of Your Son
  • Love came down and rescued me
  • Love came down and set me free
  • Now I am Yours, I am forever Yours
  • Mountain high or valley low
  • I sing out, remind my soul
  • I am Yours, I am forever Yours
  • When my heart is filled with hope, when every promise comes my way
  • When I feel Your hands of grace rest upon me
  • Staying desperate for You God, staying humbled at Your feet
  • I will lift these and praise, I will believe
  • I am Yours, I am Yours
  • All my days I am Yours

  • It struck me that I was turning my mind to good things and truths I should be embracing without even realising it! When I clocked what I was doing I was able to reflect a bit about what "being God's" is all about. 

  • I've just finished reading a book that my friend's mum has written called "Potholes and Bellyflops: Thoughts from a Woman who knows" and Susie (the mum) is really good at articulating her journey of faith and what she has been learning along the way - how she has taken on a new identity because of what Jesus has done for her. 

  • I want to be someone who is secure in who I am in God. I work with so many scarily insecure young people who have no idea who they are and have so little self worth. I have been given an identity and can be confident in who God has created me to be. 

  • My unconscious singing has helped me to remember this.
  • 20 Jun 2013

    Free Weekend?

    So I just have checked in my diary and have noticed something pretty horrific. I don't have a fully free weekend until the end of August. 

    Whoa how has that happened?! 

    I think I hadn't realised because only recently have I actually got a proper paper diary (rather than my outlook diary on the computer). It's easy to agree to things without actually seeing them in relation to other events in the calender. 

    Of these weekends:

    • 4 I am working
    • 2 are weddings
    • 3 I am doing something in/after Church

    I'm also supposed to be training for a mammoth sponsored cycle ride in September. Now this throws up a few questions:

    • How am I going to rest properly?
    • When am I going to see people who I really want to see?
    • When will I have time to plan for any of these things I am supposed to be doing?
    This is when some pretty epic time management comes into play. Dealing with only the things that are absolutely essential, not getting distracted, being disciplined. Sound like me? Not at all. 

    Ha. Even as I type this I am thinking that this is going to be a tricky time. I don't know if you have ever had one of those days where you start knowing that it is going to be impossible to fit everything you have planned in the hours that you have. I have had this happen to me a number of times. Crazily God always manages to make things work, whether it's people cancelling, circumstances changing or just miraculously fast journeys on public transport. 

    I know that in the midst of mental busy-ness I can trust God to be my rock and to hold me firm. But I also know that being busy means more than ever I need to be rooting myself in God and in his truths; otherwise my perspectives will get skewed and my energy will rapidly deplete. 

    Not too long ago I completed a Myers Briggs Personality Type test - I came out as an ESFP (Extrovert, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving). One of the things my profile suggests is that I like to have more than one thing on the go, that I love to have lots to work with. Now I know this is true - I am very much a starter rather than a finisher because I love new things; I enjoy juggling lots of projects as it keeps me motivated. I'm the person who has about 15 tabs open on my computer at the same time and flicks over all of them adding a bit to each as I go. (It takes me a while to finish blog posts because I do this).

    So I know that being busy is actually something I relish in. Something that actually helps me to function better. But there has got to be balance. Busy-ness without rest is exhausting. And exhausted is something I cannot afford to be. 

    How do you make sure you stay rooted in God and not over do it?

    14 Jun 2013

    Waiting here for you

    This last week this song has been zooming around my head - we sang it at Church and it was a really powerful time of meeting with God. 

    Have a listen - 

    Ok apart from the end bit in Spanish hopefully you got most of the lyrics. Essentially saying that God is everything he has said he is and that we will wait for him because we love him. (Hallelujah/Alleluia translates as "praise" - so in the song "singing hallelujah (=praise)"

    Singing it on Sunday I was really struck by the fact that I very rarely wait for God. In fact, I rarely wait for anything. I am an impatient person, I don't wait. I'll leave it for another time if I can't do something then. 

    Waiting for God, for an encounter with God, is something that I sometimes might intend to put time aside to do...but it never quite happens. I wonder if I have un-diagnosed ADHD...but I reckon I would just use that as an excuse as to why I don't prioritise spending time with my God. 

    You see, the thing is, I really want to be like Moses - read this 

    He literally spoke face to face with God - his face shone with the glory of the Lord. God let Moses actually SEE his presence (read here) which is totally crazy. Moses was someone who, even though he had done bad things (killed someone), God met with and spoke regularly. 

    I want that. 

    I want to be willing to give up my time to meet with my God. The fact is a lot of the time I lose perspective. In the short term of course it's probably more fun to watch something, play something, go somewhere, see someone. But I want God to change me, to mold me, to speak with me. 

    That's only going to happen if I'm willing to wait for him - to give him time. 

    I'm going to go do that now. 

    11 Jun 2013


    Today I want to send you to read something about this topic that is much more articulate and insightful than I would have been able to write - enjoy learning from Julie Williams

    9 Jun 2013

    When it's really hard to start

    In life it seems that you fall into one of two categories. You are either a "starter" or a "finisher". 

    "Starter's" love new projects. They love thinking big and having the challenge of getting something rolling. They like setting the direction for where things are headed. 

    "Finisher's", on the other hand, love completing projects well. They are the people who love ticking everything off the to-do list, who are excited about drawing things to a close and doing that to a high standard. 

    I am most definitely a starter. I love new projects, I love the excitement of thinking "this could go anywhere". The downside is I get bored very easily and so it takes a lot of perseverance to keep motivated with ongoing projects. 

    However, there is one area of my life where I am not a starter. You know when you're having a conversation and you really want to tell that friend about how you REALLY are...but you don't quite know how to start....just me?

    I find it pretty tough talking about when I am not alright. Like I want to be genuine, I want people to see the "real" Naomi, but then it's like...how do I start this? Especially if you're having a conversation that isn't particularly deep and you know that by going down this road it's going to completely change the course of the conversation. What happens if that friend just wants a lighthearted catch up? 

    Then you have the thoughts like: "well how are they going to be able to help anyway?" 
    "I am supposed to be the alright one, I cannot show weakness."
    "They are going to get bored if I keep talking about me"
    "What happens if they think I'm a total nut job because of what I share?"

    And even when people give me an in - they ask "how are things going?" (or something similar), even still I find it difficult to start down the road of self exposure. 

    The thing is, when I do start, normally it's totally fine and really good to share with someone and to be able to know that that person is still your mate at the end of it. Yet despite knowing this I still struggle to begin talking about the reality of what is going on in my head. 

    Vulnerability is hard, how vulnerable is too vulnerable? Where is the line between what is acceptable to share and what isn't?

    I think I'm comforted by the fact that God knows everything - like he knows and understands my thoughts better than I do. He is the rock I can depend on because his love for me doesn't change ever. It doesn't matter what I've done or will do, he loves me the same. Being vulnerable with him is a good starting place. 

    6 Jun 2013

    Questions Part 5

    So this is the final question in my series and it's all about who I follow in the blogging world - thanks Thomas for throwing this question my way.

    When I started blogging I didn't really read other people's blogs apart from people I knew. So I read 

    I have loved reading these and being able to stay in touch with my friends - it's so cool seeing   how your friends are progressing, what they are learning, how they are growing up. I still read these all the time. 

    As I've got into blogging a bit more I have branched out a bit and I would probably say that I've got a top 3 blogs that I read to challenge my thinking and because they encourage me:

    Prodigal Magazine 

    This officially isn't a blog, it's an online magazine...but it's written a bit like a blog in that people write incredibly honest, vulnerable posts. There are a few key editorial writers and they feature different writers all the time who share about how experiences in their life have taught them more about God. Here is a post I enjoyed reading

    Stuff Christians Like - Jon Acuff 
    This is a brilliant blog which is just massively random - some things make you think, some things are funny, some things are just ridiculous. It's very American but is just some light relief to glance over. Here is a post I enjoyed reading 

    God and Politics - Gillan Scott
    This is a fantastic resource for engaging in current affairs. Scott raises some really insightful points about how to look at issues in the media and reviews nearly everything related to Christianity. Considering my degree is in International Politics I really value this blog for making a lot of topics accessible as I can't always spend lots of time researching things myself. Here is a post I enjoyed reading

    Blogging is definitely helping me to understand a lot more about life. 

    5 Jun 2013

    Questions Part 4

    I had a good number of questions come in so continuing in this little series is a question from Josh Maynard - If you had to go on a dinner date with anyone (living or dead - but not Jesus!) who would it be? And why

    It's a solid question and one which I've had to think about for a few days. 

    But I have decided that if I had to choose one person it would be....

    Martin Luther King Jnr

    There are 3 main reasons for wanting to meet/talk to him:

    #1. He is a hero of mine because of his ability to... 
    • have a godly vision, 
    • communicate it clearly enough to inspire thousands of people to join him,
    • persevere despite huge opposition and death threats
    • keep the bigger picture in mind

    #2. I'd want to ask him...

    • How did God tell you that equality was what he wanted you to use your life campaigning for?
    • How did you keep going in the face of extreme persecution?
    • What did you do in your life to prepare you for everything that happened?

    #3. I'd want to absorb from him his wisdom on...
    • Forgiveness
    • Perseverance
    • The power of God
    • Equality
    MLK said a lot of powerful things that have challenged me on many occasions - here are a few of my favourites.

    "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies."

    "I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

    "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"

    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

    "[In the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible] The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"

    I cannot help but be moved by someone who was treated so badly and yet loved so deeply.