10 second sermons? you’re having a laugh!

Regular bloggists among you will know that I like a good joke. Actually, regular bloggists among you will be questioning what I consider to be a ‘good’ joke, but be like Paddington and the Brown family and bear with me here (what do you mean that’s not a good joke?).

I recently bought a copy of Milton Jones‘s Even More Concise 10 Second Sermons, the aptly-named sequel to 10 Second Sermons. These books contain very brief and yet very pithy (and often funny) observations by Milton Jones on life and faith. Let me give you a couple of examples to whet your appetite (I am not on commission but the books are available to be ordered from local bookshops or online retailers – published by DLT):

A lot of organised religion seems like a man who was told that the only thing he could give God could be found in a mirror. So he went off and made God a hugely elaborate ornamental mirror.

Praying seems to be like trying to undo a knot. You never know quite what’s going to work, it’s just important to keep going. (Also, best check what you’re trying to undo isn’t holding up something else important.)

‘Upholding Christian values’ can be a way of insulating myself from the world, which is the ultimate un-Christian value.

Brilliant, aren’t they? You could ponder each one for ages and there would still be more to reflect on.

How about these:

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.’

‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

It seems Jesus was rather good at the pithy, humorous observational comedy too. (If you’re not sure about the humour try pushing a camel through the eye of a needle, enjoy the slapstick of the second observations and think about a blind guide. And the final observation is perhaps the earliest occurrence of ‘waiter, there’s a fly in my soup’ with the kicker that you missed the camel!

Humour can be a very effective way of communicating truth because it disarms and then comes at you from an unexpected direction to make you laugh (the reflex action) and then, maybe, reflect.

Which one of the six sayings above has God spoken to you through today?

Be blessed, be a blessing


Thermostat 2

A very brief thought today because I am very busy. I have had plenty of time to reflect, just not much time to turn that into a bloggage. So here’s the brief thought inspired by the weather:

Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?

Do you know the difference?

Can other people see that difference in you?

Be blessed, be a blessing

Milton Jones tweeted today: Just found out about the Channel Islands. Last week’s holiday in jersey far hotter than necessary.

lol, hmmm

Following yesterday’s heavy bloggage, today there is some levity…

I have just acquired a book by Milton Jones: “10 second sermons.” Don’t get too excited if you are part of the church where I minister, I am not planning to emulate him. But I thought it would be worth sharing some of them with you. They are funny, but like the best parables there is a hidden message that can make you go ‘hmmm’.

You can order the book from most online booksellers and local bookshops will be able to get it for you too. You can even get it as a Kindle book.10 Second Sermons: ... and even Quicker Illustrations

If being a Christian is only about not doing certain things, then that’s a bit like a celebrity chef who is more famous for his allergies and intolerances.

I am quite prepared for you to say what you want about my faith as long as I can say what I like about your lack of it.

Sometimes people think of church as being like a giant helicopter. They don’t want to get too close in case they get sucked into the rotas.

Others think of it as a Winnie the Pooh pyjama suit. Safe and warm, but they hope to goodness no one sees them in it.

Sometimes religion can seem like the last person in a long game of Chinese whispers. Once Jesus said, ‘Love God and each other’, and now we have the Easter Bunny!

Be blessed, be a blessing.

the antidote to envy

You might just have noticed that the Olympic Games are taking place in Britain at the moment. (Technically they are the ‘London Games’ but events are taking place all over the country so I am widening the net to be inclusive.) Given how difficult it has been to get tickets for events, it is interesting to me how many of my friends have managed to get them. I know this because they keep posting photos on Facebook and Tweeting about how it is at the different events and venues.

It would be possible to feel quite jealous of these people. The steady flow of photos and comments could feel like salt was being rubbed into the wounds of our failure to get any tickets.

But actually I am thrilled when I see and read these things. The joy and excitement my friends are experiencing is quite infectious. I know that they are not boasting or thumbing their noses at those who have not got tickets. They want to share their excitement with their friends.

When we are not as privileged as others it is easy to allow jealousy and envy to lead to bitterness and resentment. I think the antidote is in the Bible: ‘rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep’. If we have an open-hearted attitude to others and seek to empathise and share their lives our lives are enriched by the lives others live. If we are happy because others are happy then there is less room for envy. Even the ‘weeping with those who weep’ is enriching as it helps us to stand with and alongside our friends who are in difficult circumstances and that is a real privilege. How do we do that? We seek to love people as Jesus loves them. Ask God to give you his live and grace in abundance.

Be blessed, be a blessing (and keep posting the photos of the Olympics if you are blessed to attend).

Some Olympic-related (vaguely) Tweets from Milton Jones (@themiltonjones):

In South London man in white track-suit didn’t appreciate me trying to put out his Cornetto which was on fire.

And so the Olympic Games begin. I’m particularly looking forward to the Mental Gymnastics.

Olympic show jumping: have just put bet on little door opening in back of Greek horse and soldiers coming out to steal medals.

They don’t like you playing Ludo in those Games Lanes do they?

‘Ye Shiwen denies doping.’ So Do Ping came second?