Having the Power to do good means: Conquering Depression

 Our God wants us to live a productive life, demonstrating simple acts of kindness. Every problem in this world is caused by selfishness.

For example the ex-footballer Gary Speed and senior national Welsh manager had everything going for him. Though. it may have been a dreadful meeting that may have led to his death. Money, talent or fame is not the answer for celebrities, especially in time of need. It would have been so different if a great individual like Gary Speed was to meet a Christian who was genuine with the goodness of God coming through them. As a human being, someone like Gary was more than likely devastated by the lack of praise they received. It could have been so different if he had met a Christian with that good news. This would have told him that no matter what people may say to you, Christ the living God loves you if only you give your heart to Him.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)
Jennifer Valentine (2012)

Outdated?

Going out with someone is what it says it is.  Having made a date, selected a time and venue, and also asked what do you fancy to eat?  You are hopefully going out with someone as opposed to spending an evening indoors.  If only though, going out with someone was just exactly that.  Many have been doing this for years to find at the end of the day that is all it is.  Today the few disgruntled 40 plus individuals who have not even ventured beyond that. Their decision is to go back to school and start again at a more mature level (I hope this makes sense).   When the time comes for a youth leader to release their clutch from a young person so that the veer into education, the work place, or even the mission field; I hope they (the youth leaders) are not fooled into thinking that this young person does not have another agenda roaming through their minds. This is an issue that needs to be faced and addressed.

Do we pity the poor 20-something in our society?  Today’s Christian in the 20 plus age bracket are bombarded by a media and culture that urges them to have uncommitted sex at any opportunity, and on the other by a Church that tells them sharply that they should not. There are loads of books out there advising those trying to navigate the romantic pitfalls of modern society in a Christian way. But are they any good? Help is out there, apparently, in the form of Christian dating books. Do they hold the key? With contributions from various aged 20-something and authors Helen Coffey & Jamie Cutterridge © Christianity Magazine (2012), the aim is to unlock the most wanted to know questions on how to find that perfect date.

1. Look in my own church. This is a slightly unnecessary tip, because if you have got to the point where you are reading 20 First Dates for inspiration, you have probably considered (or dated) and dismissed every single man at your church. Even so, I went so far as to purchase a date with the only eligible bachelor at our church. We had a charity auction of promises, and the guy offered Italian lessons. I ended up bidding my entire month’s food budget, but I won. ‘Maybe we’ll get married in Italy!’ I thought…but our second lesson brought me down to earth with a crash when he brought along the (non-Christian) girl he was dating. Cancel the Italian chapel, return the imaginary wedding dress, get back the deposit for the caterers when the time comes around etc…..

2. Friend’s recommendation. Yes, I went on a blind date. Well, for me it was blind – he had the advantage of picking me from the line-up of single girls my friend showed him on Facebook. He was perfectly nice (as any friend of my friend was bound to be), but there was no spark. Or so I thought. Apparently for him there were sparks aplenty; he could not understand how I didn’t feel ‘it’ too. There was an awkward conversation, my friend was put in an awkward position; awkwardness really was the watchword of the whole encounter.

3. Internet dating. This has had a makeover in recent years and is no longer considered the haunt of people who don’t have good enough social skills to meet people ‘normally’. I dipped a toe in the water, going through the cringe-making process of writing a profile, uploading photos and waiting for someone who didn’t come across as an axe murderer to drop me a line. I went on quite a few dates, and met quite a few nice people. The only problem I found was that dating this way is like interviewing for a job you’re not even sure you want – the position of future girlfriend/wife – and it takes all spontaneity and romance out of the proceedings. And, as with everything Christian, the girls outnumber the boys.

4. Meeting with someone by not dating? This is based on the idea that you should not be in a relationship with anyone unless you are seriously considering marrying them. Therefore instead of dating, you begin courting someone on a path that very clearly leads to the altar. The problem for me is that I don’t think I could start thinking about marriage before I started going out with someone. Nor do I think it’s sinful or a waste of time to have a relationship when marriage is not the intended goal from the outset. But the idea of embarking on something with the distinct aim of not playing games with each other is refreshing. In fact, it sounds amazing – not wondering if you’ll ever hear from someone again, not having to pretend you’re not that fussed when you can’t stop thinking about them.  This is impossible to do, unless the man in question is from the ‘courting, not dating’ school of thought.  And how do you establish that date before you have even been for a drink?  Well, you can’t!

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)

Words_Pressed_Cover_for_Kindle

Status, Power or Influence

When I moved to the Essex borders over 13 years ago my local church was not covered by the Pope, or the Arch Bishop, in fact the overseer was and still is the General Superintendent of the Evangelical League of International Ministries.   My impression upon my new church at that time was not a favourable one.  They stressed that sports men and women belonged on the pitch, and if you came from the thrones of the theatre then you were be told from start that the church is not a stage – therefore I may not have a part to play here. The idea of travelling from church to church and house to house in order to find spiritual enrichment did not appeal me. So I chose to find my place within my local church; with the intention of leading one day so that I could be an influence.  Well, why not? No one was interested in what titles I had won and no one knew or heard of the films I had appeared in; or even if I had won an Oscar. These were situations I have found myself having to accept “keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” 1 Peter 3:16. Having succumbed to the fact that I just didn’t know how sell or deliver my own achievements successfully, I accepted to promote the success of others along with my own testimony. In fact we all have a testimony.  After much contemplation I tried to bring to mind those who played a formative part in my earliest years. It quickly became clear that not one of them had status or power within the life of the local church. Yet their influence was immeasurable.  I have been blessed by the many guests who have visited my local church.  Many of them I knew or still know as sportsmen and women from the film industry who would never have dreamed of being seen on a platform or behind a microphone. Their testimonies left an indelible impression.

I ask myself many a times, what is my role within the local church? And the same answer comes back which is to let members know your place within the body of Christ (which is the Church).  The best education I can give is to serve well with all my heart, and all my might. The best education is caught rather than taught. So where does this leave me now? Perhaps to recognise three things:

The first might be to recall and reconnect with those who played a positive role in our lives and let them hear our gratitude.

The second might be to pray for a conduit of affirmation and encouragement in the lives of others.

The third would be that, if ever called to make the choice, always to choose influence over status and power.

An extract from the book “Words Pressed: A Short Biography” (Available on Amazon)

Why should your Church be situated on top of the Hill?

By Jennifer M Valentine

During the time of the early church and the command of Christ, the church was an institution.  Though, Jesus and his followers founded the organisation as a visible manifestation of his Kingdom. But does that mean this is what our church is today in the twenty-first century?  That is hard to answer as a general principle since there are a number of different churches today and around the globe with many different characteristics.  None of these specific churches can be identified exclusively or totally with the Kingdom of God.  They contain the faithful and the imposter.  No one church follows the teachings of Jesus completely and faithfully.

With that being said, it is equally apparent that many Christians and ministers today have developed the attitude that somehow their local government is supposed to enforce by law what only the Spirit of God can enforce through grace. Let’s be plain: local government cannot do the church’s job.

Likewise, it is not even our central government’s role to undertake family duties. It is the responsibility of each mother and father to teach morality and faith to their children. Parents are given the task of disciplining and correcting their children.

The Prime Minister revealed during a No. 10 meeting with church leaders how he has been rocked by the fuel crisis and the rows over donors and the pasty tax. He said: “In the past week I’ve felt like I needed someone to pray for me.” (Telegraph, 2012)

Mr Cameron also tried to heal a rift with churches over his plans for gay marriage. In a surprise move, he hailed the “Christian fight back” on the right to wear a cross – and praised Christian values. (Daily Mail, 2012).  There is therefore a major impetus for Christians to step up in their thinking, because it is not the government’s role to step up for them.

At this point, I should make it clear that state and local governments have every right-and even the responsibility-to establish community standards. Central and local governments are legitimately within their rights to prohibit those activities deemed harmful to the health and well-being of their communities.

Many churches, locally and globally, are struggling just to stay afloat, including my own. It’s not the responsibility of the church to bail the government out of its own debt. Christ’s church is an example of thankful people who give glory to God because of his resurrection, strength and power.

There are a lot of people who have nowhere to turn and no options and they end up on the street. However, there are a great number of homeless people who are that way because of drug addiction, mental illness, and other similar circumstances.  These people need to be helped by government agencies and institutions for their specific problems. However the church is there to meet a need; which is to serve.  God is glorified as outreach efforts bless the lives of those in need.

There are many Christians who see servant hood as a lack of power because throughout history it is associated with servants or slaves. We find this stress on service throughout the Gospels and the ministry of Jesus.  It is written “who ever wants to be great among you must serve the rest like a servant” and “whoever wants to become the first among you must serve all of you like a slave.” Matthew 20:26 NIV

At such, the most important thing to remember about the Church is that it is not a mass of human beings, but of God.  The reason as to why your church should be that light house church situated high up on a hill is that Christ is not only the founder, He is also its head.

Available on Audible.co.uk

Available on Audible.co.uk

 Words Pressed: A Short Biography – copyright © 2012 Jennifer M Valentine

To Be or Not to be An Actor

To Be or Not to be An Actor

There is always a sense of anticipation and excitement when a friend says  “You will soon see me appearing on television.”  As what?  I hasten to ask.  Reality television appears to be the craze at the moment – we see television viewing fully occupied with a lot of people who just want to be famous for being their self.

I believe there is a skill and art to entertainment.  For example, I don’t like horror but I do like special effects. I love romantic films though I do exclaim that sex can steal the scene.  Having said this can I rewind back and say that acting is an art and not witchcraft.  So many Christians believe that if there is no “message” behind a script then we should not relate to it (and I do agree up to a point).  Upon reflection I remember having a spring in my step when approaching a burning cross as Joan of Arc. I was also on a complete non-drug induced high whilst appearing as the maid (Mary) in an adaptation of The Crucible. And, oh dear! I did stand tall when firing arrows as the Greek mythology character Medusa. All of this and many more wasn’t me escaping reality but it was me being part of a team and playing my part as an actress.

My junctures in acting has generated many a “thank you” and “bravos” for bringing forth a certain real life scenario to light.  My only caution is to “let go”, especially of the character being personified.  Budding actors should not assume that they can walk into acting   later in life and believe that that they can bring to the stage all of their life experience. Get involved from an early age, therefore the desire to “act and perform” will never leave you. Also be prepared to be noticed when you least expect it (for that is what one works towards) and also it is not about about seeking the attention most people crave for. To reiterate what I said earlier don’t take it for granted that an older character will be casted to an older person; it was reported recently that the script for the new “Miss Marple” series was handed to a 30 year old actress!

Acting is not just make-up, camera, lights, and action. It is on most occasions about …“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”.

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

Reference: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” Julius Caesar,  Act III, scene II (William Shakespeare)

Healing From Damaged Emotions

HEALING FOR DAMAGED EMOTIONS
For what ever reason there are many individuals whose emotions are strained from all its natural resources. However, there are far too many who also keep a hold of their mental strains!

There are those too who keep up outward observances by praying but inwardly they are going deeper and deeper into disillusionment and despair. There are those whose problems were buried underground, now only find that they reappear later in all manner of illnesses, eccentricities, terribly unhappy marriages. Sometimes this can lead to the cause of emotional destructive children. There are many Christians for example who have found release from emotional hang ups and by experiencing the healing memories through God’s way of repairing. The result is wholeness and transformation for those crippled with emotional despair.

Just like a tree, the rings of the bark reveal their developmental history year after year and the autobiography of its growth. The rings are the scars of long stand painful hurts, which cause all kinds of interpersonal difficulties.

Within the rings lie our long suffering thoughts and emotions which deeply and effectively affect ones concepts, feelings and relationships.

We are made aware that counsellors constantly have to pick up the pieces of people who have been utterly disillusioned and devastated because immature Christians have tried to cast out imaginary demons. And we all know what the simplistic syndrome is. It is instructions like: read your Bible, pray, have more faith, and the most classic being you would never get depressed if you didn’t have these hang-ups. Those who say such things are not only being far from the truth but they are also being extremely insensitive towards someone who has a deep emotionally rooted problem. But most importantly, they are denying that person the pastoral care they so desperately need.

I discovered three good pointers when reading the book *Healing from Damaged Emotions by David Seamands:

(1) Does an individual want to be healed? This is what Jesus asked the sick man who was lame for thirty years (John 5:6). Do you really want to be healed or do you just want to talk about your problems.

(2) Prayer: We need to continually ask the Holy Spirit to show us what are problems are, and ask Him how we need to pray. The book of James reminds us that sometimes we do not receive because we pray for the wrong things (James 4:3)

(3) Forgiving yourself: Many will say, yes, I know that I am forgiven but I cannot forgive myself. Terms cannot be contradicted; God cannot forgive us unless we forgive ourselves. It has also been quoted that areas of darkness are buried in the sea of forgetfulness and forgiveness.  Corrie Ten Boom (a survivor from the Nazi’s occupation of Holland) once said “He then puts a sign on our past emotions which says No Fishing!  Let us not entertain our past hurts.  Leave them with Him and just walk away.

Copyright © Jennifer Valentine 2012

*Seamands, David (1981), Healing From Damaged Emotions