I feel that this blog is well over due. However, before I begin, I must outline the fact that I’m not a leader within the movement at all. Equally, the beauty of our movement Is that I can share my opinions without them being censored.

I’m a self-titled New Frontiers fan boy. I don’t mind admitting that. Having openly admitted that I also open myself up to criticism from others that don’t agree that New Frontiers is that great – some of those people being from within the movement themselves.

My beautiful girlfriend challenged me the other day by asking “would you ever leave New Frontiers?”. She asked out of interest, nothing more. My knee-jerk reaction was an immediate no. However, that’s not true. I would leave if I had to (we’ll get to that!).

Having observed a variety of churches within our network it is clear to me that individual people are considered precious as part of the movement; but we’re not a movement that is precious about people choosing to leave. Not because we don’t care about them but because we love them!

Things like Stoneleigh, Brighton Conference and Newday, alongside the importance placed on local church and people having a relationship to God proves (to me at least) that we are thirsty for the best God has for us! The plethora of teaching I have witnessed point’s people to chase after God with everything.

When people criticize New Frontiers to me, they often point to other movements or large churches that do something they agree with. Some even say we should change and be like them, few seem to think their purpose within our network is to be that change. I’m not sure how God will use them, maybe they’re right, but I’m not convinced. Don’t get me wrong, I think that other movements do great things that we could learn from; I also don’t believe for a second that we’re 100% right on everything.

I’m just not convinced that thinking like that is how they’re called to be. Above all else, I think we are to chase the best God has for us despite the sacrifice, that may be.

I think that if people see a movement that offers something they believe to be God’s best, and it is in line with scripture, and they don’t believe New Frontiers is within what God’s best for them as an individual, then there’s nothing wrong with leaving. In fact, I’d be happy for them as they were following what they believed God to be doing!

I’d be sad to see them leave in terms of relationship and the fun it can be to build together, but that’s part of the sacrifice of pursuing God’s best.

As for me, I know that the relationships I have, the teachers who I listen to and the leaders I submit to, are all part of God’s best for me. I’m part of a movement that plants churches, finds the lost, stands rooted in scripture, listens to God and welcomes his Spirit; I know that’s the best God has for me. It has the favour of God on it and sees scores of people saved. I’m home here.

If that changed, if God moved me on, then I would leave. However, I wouldn’t move to something that did anything less than the above because I see their necessity in scripture.

So, for now at least, I’m a New Frontiers fan boy and now you know why.

Recently, I moved to Blackpool with a view to get involved with a church plant in its early stages. The responses I’ve had, from those that I’ve had the privilege to live amongst in Lancaster, have been great sources of encouragement. I’ve loved living in Lancaster, it’s such a beautiful city and the coffee is amazing!

I’ve been reflecting on some of the comments I’ve received and that has led me to write this. I don’t have a platform, nor do I have any real authority. However, I do have a heart for people and a passion to see church be all it can be.

When I explain that I’m part of a church plant in Blackpool there are some similar responses that go along the lines of “Great! Blackpool clearly needs a church!” or “Good luck! You’ve got your work cut out there!”. I’ve also heard people suggest that Lancaster is much more desirable as a place to live as there are less social issues.

For me, these comments are double edged swords. Whilst I smile with anticipation of what’s ahead in Blackpool, I also lament for the potential damage that attitude has for Lancaster.

Walking through Blackpool town centre for longer than five minutes and it is clear, like any town, there are some social issues that require urgent attention: Alcoholism; homelessness; poverty and racism – to name a few. I love the honesty of Blackpool, these issues slap you in the face quickly; it’s a town that doesn’t dress itself up as something it’s not.

Unfortunately, Lancaster is a city that does well at hiding its issues: poverty; drug abuse; childhood deprivation; and homelessness being most prevalent. There will be others that you have identified. Tourists will rarely see these issues, or at least not as much, at the same time as the city centre remaining fresh thanks to the volume of students that bring extra revenue to the place.

My fear, and the reason for pre-emptively writing this, is that churches are at risk of being sucked into the same mentality as the rest of Lancaster. A sense of complacency that seeks to avoid the issues rather than challenge them head on. I urge you to fight against that attitude daily, it’s of the enemy.

I come from a town much like Lancaster, I’m blessed to also come from a town that has a church which is not alien to the not so apparent issues. I was found and brought into that community, it is where I first met God.

I beg you to continue the good work that you are doing but I pray that they are mere foundations for the work that is to come. Please fight hard against complacency and continue to review, reflect, and push yourselves further; all things are possible with God.

Seek out the down trodden, poor of spirit, the lost and lonely people more vehemently than you have done before. Where Lancaster has buried these issues, dig deeper to reveal them and, with God, provide the solution. Authentic community with Christ at its centre will never fail to breathe life and hope into those that have none. You already have the victory, through Christ and I implore you to live like you believe that; more so than I have already witnessed you doing.

Train your people up in evangelism; encourage them to get professional training in counselling, youth work and community leadership; challenge people to move into the most notorious estates and constantly demonstrate biblical hospitality throughout the week.

I believe that revival is coming, I have faith that God will show up where church communities invite Him to do something with the right heart.

Enjoy the fight, maintain hope and God bless.

I have just got back from my 10th Newday. For those of you reading this that don’t know, Newday is an event for 11-19’s which thousands of young people meet with God in quite a tangible way. Equally, many young people will see that Jesus is the Lord for the first time and accept forgiveness from God in a way that completely liberates them and brings freedom to their lives.

I thought I would take this opportunity to give my top three reasons why I think that Newday is amazing, but also incredibly important to continue running.

  1. Thousands of young people are able to get quality teaching, from the Bible, by a host of different leaders from across Newfrontiers and the different spheres that our local churches organise themselves in. It is really good for our young people to see these leaders, absorb the teaching that they give, and have good role models to look up to.
  2. Hundreds of young people become Christian for the first time at such a crucial age. It happens around the time when people start exploring their identity, their sexuality and form foundational opinions that potentially underpin who they are. I was so blessed that God caught me around the age of 16 – I could have wound up making some really bad decisions otherwise.
  3. Dozens of churches camp together, in close proximity, which helps young people meet other Christians their age and is a great opportunity for leaders and servers to network together; inevitably this helps with getting people stuck into church planting and resource sharing.

Having an event which seeks to bring that many people together is so powerful and shows those that hear about it how serious we are about pushing forward the kingdom of God. Ultimately, it is so refreshing to be on a week away in an atmosphere like that – it’s a mere glimpse of what Heaven will look like. I am so excited to see what is to come in the next year(s).

It’s been over two months since the 2015 election. I feel that there has been enough recovery time, for the winners and losers, and so now seems to be a good time to write this.

Anyone that knows me will be aware that I worked tirelessly, with others, for Amina Lone to get elected in Morecambe & Lunesdale on behalf of the Labour Party. We suffered a significant defeat that was much in line with the national swing. I have my reasons for voting Labour but this blog is not about that.

The recent election saw an increase of those that did not vote for the traditional three party’s. It also saw two leaders resigning which is normal, and now we’re experiencing a period where there is little scrutiny being given to the current Government.

Through the elections I witnessed relationships torn apart; people being labelled racist (even though they’re not!); elected representatives make horrible comments about those less fortunate than themselves; candidates trying to instil hatred into the hearts of people that trust them; promises being broken; and communities divided all in the name of politics.

I have fallen prey, at times, to that culture and taken part in some of the aforementioned tragedies of the most recent election.

I’ve come to the conclusion, and somewhat conviction, that it is my duty as a citizen to only speak well of those that lead our nation and vehemently pray for them – especially those that I disagree with.

The truth is, as a Christian, I want to build others up, encourage people to exercise their democratic rights, and engage with politics free from persecution but not without appropriate challenge.

The Bible shows (Rom 13:1-2 & 1 Peter 2:13) that we are to submit to governments and uphold them honourably; even when they don’t act justly we are still to do so. Hate will always breed hate but love will breed hope and genuine, real change.

I want to apologise to anyone who has ever been pressured by me to think or vote in a certain way. Equally, I want to publically declare that I am so thankful for people like David Cameron, and those that he leads in Government, for committing to a life of public servitude. I am so grateful for having leaders that allow democracy and do things as best as they can.

I will continue to pray for our Government, and anyone reading this is invited to join me in doing so.

I end this with a plea to the Christians reading this: always seek to highlight the good that the Government is doing and seek to build relationship with your local representatives. Equally, continue to engage with politics, social issues and current affairs; when trying to make change you believe in – do so with love and grace. Let’s be known as individuals that are productive and encouraging – let’s be known as the church God intended us to be known as within the sphere of politics.

So this blog, on request of my birth giver, is about Osborne’s latest idea that has come straight out of his ‘Crazy Idea Machine’.

It is conference season and the Conservative conference 2013 is in full swing, and if my humble opinion is anything to value, it’s in the shadow of a gleaming bright and hope giving Labour conference – but then what does an unemployed, postgrad student who has been demonised by the current government actually know?

George Osborne has announced the new scheme of “unpaid work for benefits” and, as expected, it received a resounding round of applause at the conference.

Firstly, let’s start by stating the obvious – “unpaid work for benefits” … why not just pay them!? I mean come on, I’m no economist and I’m certainly not as suave as Osborne but even he could have thought of that one. Why not show the advantages of paid work by giving people paid work? We’re going to put them in private sector jobs, working for free (because it’s not just litter picking they’d be expected to do) and increase private sector profits… WITHOUT PAY!? It’s disgusting.

Alas, with the death of the ‘Big Society’ they had to find other ways to get jobs done without paying for them whilst at the same time still having the ability to demonise an entire demographic on benefits, continuing to feed a moral panic with a lack of evidence, and still failing to target the crimes that cost this country the most money: White Collar Crime (something that many Conservative MP’s are guilty of might I add!).

Yet again, those on benefits are being targeted as free loaders and it is the same old discourse coming from the Conservatives, and their blind followers, that victimise millions of people who are on benefits for various reasons. All of this happening while hundreds of corperations do not pay tax appropriately, the majority of those in top earning positions are avoiding tax – BECAUSE IT IS STILL LEGAL – and those that cost this country very little in comparison are targeted. It’s a fallacy and nothing more than a moral panic.

However, let’s be fair. There are some good aspects to this proposal. Offering those that need an opportunity to change illiteracy and other issues. That’s a positive thing. Well… let’s look at that…

How can you trust a Government to provide training and education to those that need it when they have already marginalised education, attacked the sector, and successfully blocked those that could have gone into further and higher education? I don’t know about you, but those good aspects seem a little too good to be true. I’m sure they’ll be an unannounced loop hole in that entire policy, just like there’s already loop holes announced in the freezing of Fuel Duty (but that’s for another blogger to discuss).

The most sinister aspect of this entire policy, in my opinion, is the way in which those that breach the rules will lose four weeks of benefit, whilst a second offence will be three months. EVERYONE knows how easy it is for there to be errors and miscommunication which lead into someone “breaching the rules”. Are we seriously going to support a government that will take away a month, or three months, worth of benefits? Whilst at the same time use those in that situation to increase the profits of private companies without offering them pay?
The implications of that are catastrophic. That’s a month – potentially three – that someone is not going to be able to eat and will be worried sick about money and therefore negatively effecting mental health. This seems very right wing indeed, especially when those that avoid tax or even illegally dodge paying tax, get a slap on the wrist and a fine that is well within their means to pay.

So this idea that it is “fair for those who need it and fair for those who pay for it” is – dare I say it – bullshit.

Quite frankly, I’m bored of the same old Tory discourse. Bashing the poor, demonising single and unmarried parents, ostracizing those on benefits and looking down on anyone that is unemployed.

We are at a time when, more than ever, we need social cohesion and an integrating society. We have an increase of immigration (A GOOD THING!), varying cultures finding their place in UK Society, an increase (we’re not there yet) in equality and a flux of people out of work because there are not enough jobs to give.

We need a government that ceases to suggest policies such as this with an undertone of elitism and disdain. We need a government that targets corporations that avoid paying their way. We need a government that’s not in the back pocket of bankers and other individuals that have a lot of money. We need a government that is willing to listen to the majority of the people, and not the top 2% of those with wealth.

Let’s see this latest proposal for what it really is. A proposal that promises nothing tangible, will create more inequality, continue with a class divide and fan the flame of the stigma of those in that situation.

This proposal is nothing more than an attack. So make sure you attack back at the next General Election.

TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Misogyny, Abuse, Lad Culture

Edinburgh Students’ Union recently made a decision to ban the song ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. This has quickly led to many public debates on social networks, and of course, public debates already being planned by Students’ Unions around the country. However, it is the fact that these debates are even happening which makes me believe Edinburgh Students’ Union made a wise, and excellent, decision.

The song itself has been identified by organisations like Rape Crisis Scotland as a rape apologetic song which fuels rape culture. Edinburgh Students’ Union clearly identified it in the same way as have many women that I know personally.

For ages there have been articles in newspapers, books in the shops and feminists in public debates explaining and identifying that misogynistic behaviour still exists, that it may not be the same as before, but like a vicious viral disease, has evolved to be more resilient and immune to attempts to kill it off. We are living in a time where the glass ceiling is still there, lad mags are still objectifying women, songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ are still being produced and our eyes are daily arrested by advertisements that feed all of the above!

Ok so the average man wouldn’t walk up to a woman at university and say “Why are you in my lecture? This isn’t home economics or cooking lessons.” But that doesn’t mean we’ve eradicated the disease of Misogyny. It’s more discreet than that, and what’s worse, is that women are being socialised into Misogyny and wouldn’t always recognise it when they saw it! So much so, that they would even choose to defend a song such as ‘Blurred Lines’…

The standard quotes from these debates, by those defending the song, come down to the same old war cries of a misguided bunch of self proclaiming lefties:

“It’s censorship!”

“Unions are there for what the majority of the membership wants!”

“The song doesn’t hurt anyone! If they don’t want to listen to it, go somewhere else!”

“Where do we draw the lines?! What will we ban next!?”

I’m going to pick apart the above four quotes. Rather easily too.

The Censorship Argument
OxfordDictionary.com rather kindly gives definitions to words… Something I think people often forget. It defines censorship as “an official who examines books, films, news, etc. that are about to be published and suppresses any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security”.
I’d like you to read that definition again.

Since when was talking about blurred lines regarding consent, lyrics and videos that objectify women and rape apology anything other than “obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to [an individual’s] security”?

I know censorship is a loaded word and makes people feel awkward, somewhat scared and will entice them to quote history books but let’s face it… some things just need to be censored! If a union chooses to ban a song, people can still listen to it because it’s already been published… it just won’t be something you listen to at a union led event. Get over it.

The Membership Argument
Another point that I’ve seen getting made when responding to the refreshing, brilliant, wise, amazing (Am I giving myself away here…?) decision made by Edinburgh Students’ Union.
For the most part, on almost 90% of all cases made, I would agree with this statement. Unions are nothing without their membership, they are there to represent their needs (notice I didn’t say opinions…), and ensure that life is made better for them. It’s a mantra I hold dear and will always uphold whenever involved with a union.

Alas, let’s not forget that it is statistically certain that members of any union have experienced rape, misogyny, lad culture, abuse and many other disgustingly, detrimental, experiences not already listed. Unions are to ensure that they protect their entire membership and that includes triggers that could cause unwanted memories of events that the individual finds harmful to their mental well-being.

The banning of such a song will not harm those that want to listen to it but will protect those that do not want to or cannot listen to the song for whatever reason. Let’s not hide behind the façade of democracy, suggesting that this is a matter of representation, when it simply isn’t.

Oh… and if Edinburgh’s Conservative and Unionist Society are reading this then here’s me practicing my free speech: “You’re disgusting, make me glad that my university hasn’t got a society like yours, and I cannot believe that you’ve actually had the gall to trivialize such a matter into something as simple as ‘Free Speech’. My suggestion is you move to the moon so that this planet doesn’t have to be plagued by such a foul smelling rhetoric”. – Don’t you just love free speech guys!?

The ‘It Doesn’t Hurt Anyone’ Argument
Actually, it does. There are plenty (more than most people are willing to admit and that’s half the problem!) of members in any given Students’ Union that will have encountered experiences of rape, sexual assault and/or abuse and find misogynistic things very offensive and detrimental to their well-being. Not to mention the countless amount of demographics, notwithstanding those with religious convictions, that do not want to hear nor see the kinds of things they’d be subjected to through the song ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. The idea that people should go somewhere else when a union should be a safe space for its members is abhorrent.

It’s just simple fact and such a weak, poorly constructed, phallic argument needs nothing more than a mere paragraph to show it for what it really is.

The “Where do we draw the lines?!” Argument
This is yet another fairly simple argument to deconstruct and explain. We should draw the lines at anything that is harmful, obscenely offensive without need, rape apologetic, objectifying of women, misogynistic in general and likely to trigger a person to re-experience a horrific experience.

I’m sure there are others that would like to add to that list, I would welcome that, but in the context of this song and the debates that have ensued. This is where the line must be drawn.

I’m not going to sit here, like the keyboard warrior I love to be, and assume that I know the ins and outs of how detrimental this song can be. I am definitely not speaking for a feminist movement (I don’t believe men should do that either…) and I absolutely am not innocent in my past of being sucked into Lad Culture (The evil hoover that it is).
I will sit here and vehemently oppose anything that is how I’ve outlined above and ask men and women who defend it a few questions like:

“Since when did rape culture become art and an act of someone’s free speech?”

“How is the objectification of women, and rape apology, in any way empowering for women?”

“Did you ever stop to think that just because a woman says it’s ‘empowering’ and that’s why they directed the video, that doesn’t mean it is?”

“Why is it that socialisation is a term that is thrown around by liberal lefties when talking about class, but never when talking about lad culture, misogyny and rape apology?”

Edinburgh made a Stirling decision (Hope that didn’t offend them too much!). The fact that they made a stand against something that has been identified as rape apology and misogynistic by many people whilst at the same time sparking off debates which shows culture for how misguided and blind it has truly become is no small feat. I applaud the officers at that union for making one of the most land mark decisions of their time leading their Students’ Union.

I look forward to seeing my Students’ Union Students’ Council get to a point where it too can make such decisions and not be scared of the repercussions that may or may not follow. Let’s hope the University of Central Lancashire students get to a point where they will finally have a consciousness raising (as Dawkins would so lovingly describe) high enough to see this song for what it really is. Disgusting.

This blog will probably earn me a bad name, a lot of bad press, criticism, abuse and insults.

It will also probably leave me with a brand, burnt into my forehead, in some people’s eyes suggesting that “I don’t care about all the loss of life and destruction that happened at 9/11 and the two subsequent wars as a result of it”. This could not be further from the truth.

Let me start by saying that my heart absolutely goes out to all those that have suffered because of what happened that day. It truly was a lamentable event and I pray that nothing like that ever happens again.

Alas, it’s from that same heart that I feel compelled, today of all days, to write this blog. I do not believe that Al Qaeda were responsible for the events that took place 12 years ago. I specialise in cults, conspiracy theory and fan based religion with all my research. However, having uncovered the evidence I found regarding 9/11 – I no longer believe that to be a mere conspiracy theory.

I will not go into all the evidence in this short blog because I will link you to a video and website at the end. However, I will tell you a couple of the most compelling pieces of evidence which would suggest 9/11 was orchestrated by criminal elements within the American Government so that there could be new justification to pass through oppressive legislation which would impact on the civil liberties, human rights and freedom of individuals wherever the USA had jurisdiction.

Did you know that three towers actually collapsed that day? World Trade Centre 7 also collapsed. No plane hit it. There was a small fire in the building (It would never have got hot enough to melt the foundations) and it fell at free fall speed, just like a controlled demolition. Here you can see a BBC news reporter explaining that WTC7 has also collapsed 20mins before the actual collapse. This does not mean that the BBC were in on the act, but it does mean that someone knew it was going to collapse and got the information to the news desks and WTC7 then did not collapse on time.

How did that building collapse when there was no plane hitting it and there was only a small fire? Think about it.

Equally, the FBI has a list of “Hi-Jackers” from the event does not seem to be a list of those that actually Hi-jacked planes. Although the number has risen, this BBC report shows that 4 of the alleged Hi-Jackers are still alive… (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1559151.stm) – to this day the FBI still refuses to update the list, even when they know they are still alive…

I’ve shown you the two pieces of evidence that convinced me, use the links at the end of this blog for more detailed information.

In light of all that, 9/11 still happened – just not how we are led to believe. The wrong people are being brought to justice whilst certain individuals and companies are profiting from two wars that should never have happened. Spend today remembering the victims, but at the same time think about the fact that there are people out there escaping justice.

Lest we forget.

More information here:
Zeitgeist – The 9/11 Myth
Rethink 911