Elmer Fudd – who’s looking for him?

I have been looking at the various stats generated by this blog. They are interesting, but not especially revealing. However, there is one curious statistic. Over the last few days I have had at least 10 people arrive on my blog because they searched on a search engine for ‘Elmer Fudd’! He is not the main theme of the bloggage on this site, nor indeed has he been mentioned very often. Indeed, other than the ‘holding bloggerel’ this morning when I was without any internet connection, I have only mentioned him in one entry.

STOP PWESS – I have just checked the ‘all time’ stats and ‘Elmer Fudd’ is by far the number one search that has led to my blog!!!!

So why are search engines pointing people towards my humble blog in answer to their quest for Elmer Fuddage? I hope it’s not because they are doing searches by picture and the search engine thinks I look like him!

I did a quick google search (other search engines are available) for Elmer Fudd earlier and my blog was nowhere to be seen. This suggests that either they are using a different search engine, or that they are being VERY determined and thorough and looking at lots and lots of pages about Elmer Fudd. But why are people so interested in Elmer Fudd? I hope that they were not too disappointed when they read my bloggerel and hope that they may have had a look around at other bloggages…

In the past year we have had some people come to our church through some unusual experiences. On a Sunday morning the car park outside our church is full to overflowing (literally) with cars. A lady was walking past one Sunday morning and saw how full the car park was. She surmised that something good might be going on inside because of the number of cars and came in. She came each week until she moved away from Colchester this year. Another person was walking past as people were coming out of the service and saw how happy they all were (probably relieved that I had finished my sermon before their roast lunch burnt beyond recognition) and decided to come back the following week and find out why. They have since come to faith through the church! I find that a growing number of people find us through our website and can even find us geographically (we are on a street that is normally pedestrianised so satnavs have trouble with the last 100 yards of the journey).

Jesus uses very unusual things to draw people to himself. Car parks. Smiles. Websites. Us! Perhaps even bloggerel about Elmer Fudd!! We probably won’t know all of the ways in which people have been drawn towards Jesus through us, through our work, through our actions and words, even through our cars. Our responsibility is simply to be the best free samples of Jesus that we can, and allow God’s Spirit to do the rest.

Be blessed. Be a blessing.

I have realised that the number of times I have mentioned Elmer Fudd in this bloggerel probably increases the chances of people finding it by searching for Elmer Fudd. That is partly deliberate. Something mischievous within me would love to be near the top of the list of websites about Elmer Fudd.

Be bwessed. Be a bwessing!

Some handy tips, including one about parking cars (tenuous link)

Old telephone books make ideal personal address books. Simply cross out the names and addresses of people you don’t know.

Fool other drivers into thinking you have an expensive car phone by holding an old TV or video remote control up to your ear and occasionally swerving across the road and mounting the curb.

Avoid parking tickets by leaving your windshield wipers turned to fast wipe whenever you leave your car parked illegally.

No time for a bath? Wrap yourself in masking tape and remove the dirt by simply peeling it off.

Apply red nail polish to your nails before clipping them. The red nails will be much easier to spot on your bathroom carpet. (Unless you have a red carpet, in which case a contrasting polish should be selected.)

If a person is choking on an ice cube, don’t panic. Simply pour a jug of boiling water down their throat and presto! The blockage is almost instantly removed.

going equipped

I went prepared to the Baptist Assembly.

Pocket knife
In my bag I had a small selection of magic tricks in case somebody had a sudden deficiency of entertainment and the shout went out, “Is there a magician in the hotel?” Sadly there was no such call. The tricks stayed in my bag, except for a couple of occasions when I was on a train and got them out to practice. I received a strange look from the lady sitting opposite me. It was not an “Ooh, please show me a trick” sort of look. It was more “What on earth are you doing?”. So I did not inflict my tricks on her.

I have become a little more self-aware about my magic tricks and how, in the desperate search for an audience I can be a bit overzealous. I realise now that there have been times when I have bored people with trick after trick. Most of the time they have humoured me and tolerated me. If you recognise yourself as an unwilling or unwitting victim of my tricks, please accept my apologies.
(On the other hand, if you would LIKE to be an audience, you only have to ask once!)
I have come across Christians who have a similar approach to sharing their faith. They inflict themselves on others rather than responding to invitations. They force their opinions on people rather than listening to what the others have to say. They are more willing to give answers than ask questions.
Often Jesus responded to questions and enquiries by asking the questioner a question in response. It was not that he was being evasive. Rather he was trying to engage in a dialogue. In effect he was saying, “What do you think?” or “Let’s work this through together.” It’s not so easy to do this if you feel you have a good answer to someone’s question. But it is humble, gracious, respectful and enables others to express their opinions while considering yours. I am sorry if you have ever been a victim of an over-zealous Christian. Please don’t let it put you off exploring the questions you have. And if you want to try me, I do not have all the answers, but I am learning some good questions.
Be blessed, be a blessing.
A man goes to a theatrical agent and asks if she will represent him.
“What do you do?” she asked.
“I am a magician,” says the man, “I am the Great Magnifico!”
“Hmmmm,” muses the agent. “What is your signature trick?”
“I saw people in half,” said the magician proudly, pausing for effect.
The agent was unimpressed. “There are lots of magicians who saw people in half,” she said. “You will have to do something better than that if you want to be successful.”
The Great Magnifico smiled and gently added, “…lengthways.”

you heard about it here first

On 1 February this year I mused on my blog about what would happen if there was a transfer window system for Ministerial moves. I have another idea which may be a brilliant TV show. (I will tithe my royalties to BUGB Home Mission). When it comes on your TV screen as the next ‘reality’ show, remember where you saw it first.

DISCLAIMER: Any similarities to the ways in which churches actually choose their ministers in real reality is hopefully unlikely, is coincidental but would be very sad.

This was inspired (?) by watching the US version of The Apprentice last night. Other than being mesmerised by Donald Trump’s hair (is that the world’s biggest combover?) I was amazed at the way in which the would-be apprentices fought so hard to out-do their colleagues or run them down.

So… what about a Ministerial Settlement version of the Apprentice? We could get a dozen ministers who are looking to settle into a new church and set them a series of challenges each week. Each week the church in question would hold a church meeting and get rid of the candidate that was weakest.

the axe
who’s for the chop first?

Challenges could include: setting out an evangelism strategy for the church; carrying out a community survey; preaching on obscure passages; conducting pastoral visits to awkward church members (they could be acting if insufficiently cranky to make good TV viewing); explaining the Trinity to four-year-olds; baptising in icy water; changing the colour of the church tea cups; working a seventy-five hour week; and the finale would be judged on how many people became Christians during the show.

The last challenge came to me last night as I was contemplating this blog in the early hours (when I wanted to be asleep) and remembered hearing of Charles Spurgeon and the question he asked all would-be trainee ministers. He would ask them how many people they had brought to Christ. If the answer was ‘none’ he would send them away as unacceptable.

That is a sobering thought, since all of us are called to be ministers wherever Jesus has placed us.

So what about the denouement of each show – the moment when the church meeting gets rid of the weakest candidate? It’s a shame we are not a robe-wearing denomination, otherwise each week instead of being ‘fired’ the individual who is leaving could be declared ‘surplice to requirements’ and be defrocked. So how about they are told, “You’re not required!” or “You’re undesired!” or “You’re unadmired!”

And the name of the show?

How about: “The Injustice” or “The Bad Practice” or “The Prejudice” or (my preference) “The Disservice”

One final question: Where’s seeking God in all the razzmatazz?

looking back and looking forward

The church at which I am one of the ministers is 321 years old. Okay, by the standards of some parish churches that is not so old, by when you consider that Baptist churches are only just 400 years old, it’s pretty good.

Celebration 2To mark our church being 300 years old in 1989 one of our members wrote a book that tells what happened in the first three centuries. It makes fascinating reading (and copies are still available from our church). For me, one of the most significant parts of the book is a chart in the back that reveals our family tree (yes, that’s what the picture is meant to represent). Starting with Colchester Baptist Church in 1689 you can trace the planting of 33 other churches. We have daughter churches, granddaughters, great-granddaughters and so on through to great-great-great-granddaughter churches. That’s quite a heritage!

Last night at our church prayer gathering we reflected on people who had been an influence in our journey of faith and thanked God for them.

Putting those two things together I find it amazing that God uses so many people to bless, encourage, inspire and teach us. The good news of Jesus is faithfully passed on from generation to generation. That’s the way God planned it, and he has no plan B.

So who will give thanks to God for you when they consider their journey of faith? Who may trace their spiritual heritage back through you? Who can you bless, encourage, inspire, or teach about Jesus today?

Be blessed. Be a blessing!


Granddaughter joke:
A grandmother was telling her little granddaughter what her own childhood was like: “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tyre; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the woods.”

The little girl was wide-eyed, taking this in. At last she said, “I wish I’d got to know you sooner!”

Evangelism is like flossing

 

I’m currently “at queue position two… in the queue.” That’s what the machine I am dealing with on the phone is telling me, and has been telling me for the past ten minutes. I’m trying to make an appointment for a dental check up, which is not something I am thrilled about) and they are not making it easy for me. I am beginning to lose my patience with the machine’s repetitious messages and beeps. I wonder whether the machine is working and whether I will ever get to “speak to a member of our team” as the machine keeps inviting.

One thing that the waiting is doing is enabling me to practice my one-handed typing, but it is not doing anything else positive for me. I am sure that when the dental surgery installed the system they thought that it was user-friendly and helpful for us patients. To be honest it is having the opposite effect and they may well lose one of their patients if this goes on much longer.

I have now hung up. (Two-handed typing resumes – can you tell the difference?) I can’t spend all day listening to a machine telling me that I am “at queue position two… in the queue.” I would like to move up the queue. I would like to talk to a person. I will be very polite if I ever get to speak to one (see ‘Bless a Bureaucrat Day’ Blog on 9th March). I will now probably visit the surgery in person to make the appointment and will refrain from starting with “Your conversation is important to me, please hold. You are at queue position two… in the queue. Your conversation will be initiated soon.” Instead I will smile sweetly (to show that I have been looking after my gnashers) and ask gently for an appointment so that a dentist can gaze into my mouth and tell me I should floss more regularly.

I know what I ought to be doing, and I try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but I end up feeling guilty every time I sit in the dentists’ chair and try not to exaggerate when I am asked how often I floss. Is that how people feel when they come to church? Do they feel guilty when I try to encourage them to share their faith – they know what they ought to be doing and try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but they end up feeling guilty every time they sit in the pew and try not to exaggerate when I ask how often they talk about Jesus to their friends.

Hmmm. A wise lecturer at Spurgeon’s College, where I trained, said that people respond far better to encouragement than to challenge. I know I ought to be encouraging, and I try hard to remember to do it – honestly – but I end up feeling awkward every time I stand in the pulpit and try not to make people feel guilty. Much grace is needed!