BlogsThoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral
Shutting out the noise
By Andrew Greenhalgh, Life Group leader, Jubilee Church Wirral
Do you know this poem?
“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
It’s the final verse from Invictus by William Ernest Henley.
It’s one of those soul-stirring poems that are much beloved of sportsmen and women, motivational speakers and film directors.
It sounds good when spoken over some quietly emotional classical music at the end of feel-good films about overcoming adversity.
There’s only one problem with it.
It’s not true.
I am not the master of my fate. Or the captain of my soul.
That would be God.
If there’s one thing I have learned in my 48 years on this planet (I know, I know, I don’t look a day over 47 and a half) it’s that I need to put God in charge of everything.
Yes, He wants to grant us the desires of our hearts, but He knows a lot better than we do about what’s best for us.
That’s a side issue.
What I really wanted to write about is what we allow to get into our heads.
Invictus sounds good and isn’t blatantly non-Christian. But the fact is, it’s a very worldly way of thinking and goes against what we should believe as Christians.
The world has very different values to God’s.
Not only will the world tell you that you’re in charge of your fate, but that your happiness is more important than anything else, and that having sex before marriage is not only acceptable but important.
It’s all what I would call a load of bobbins.
The fact is, though, that we are surrounded by this kind of stuff on a daily basis. Social media is packed with it and whole films and TV series are made about it.
But that doesn’t make it true.
The important thing – for me, at least – is to make sure that I don’t listen to it.
I know how important it is for me to keep an eye on what goes into my head. I’ve had to stop listening to any kind of music with swearing in it because I know that that language then creeps into my vocabulary.
Doing that is relatively straightforward – there’s an explicit filter on Spotify which I make very good use of.
It’s not so easy with the kind of stuff that the world has decided is fine but actually isn’t.
How do we turn on an explicit filter for the world? That’s not so easy.
Cutting ourselves off from the world would be one route but then we wouldn’t be able to bring others to the Lord.
The answer, as ever, is God.
We need to ask Him to help us recognise the nonsense that we all get bombarded with on a daily basis and reject it for what it is. Nonsense.
That’s not easy either, but with God’s help nothing is impossible, right?
Andrew Greenhalgh with his wife Julie
In the month of remembrance, Chris on remembering what Jesus sacrificed for us and how we need to act on it.
Helen on the importance of Friends and what God has to say about them in the Bible.
Andrew on evangelism, how we are all evangelists whether we like it or not, and how to evangelise easily.
Dawne on the parable of the lost sheep and the lessons we can take from it as followers of Jesus and members of His flock.
Yvonne on loss and how God has helped her deal with the loss of her mum and the impending departure of her eldest son to his first job
Nicki on serving at Newday and the impact it has had on all three Frodsham children and many, many others
Simon on the frustrations of not being able to get to sleep properly, and the Bible verses that help him stand firm against sleeplessness.
Gerry on how easy it is to be drawn into gossip. “If you can’t say anything positive, don’t say anything at all” isn’t just good advice, it’s Biblical wisdom.
Sylvia on being an encourager: “God knows our troubles. When we open up to Him, He’ll use other people to encourage us through His word.”
Lynne on doing what God wants us to do even when we really don’t want to do it – and why it’s important
Chris on the power of our words and how having a relationship with Jesus can give us the power of the right word at the right time.
Helen on why Psalms have taken the place of Proverbs as her favourite book of the Bible
Andrew Greenhalgh on being much better at giving advice than at taking it – and what happens as a result.
Chantal Robertson on how God and the gospel of Christ has never changed over time – even though the way we package it has.
Nicki on how she was planning to work in the marketing and advertising industry until God led her in a different direction.
Dawne challenges us to look at life with the enthusiasm, joy and exuberance of her Macedonian dog Floki and find joy in the everyday.
Jen on how taking the Alpha Course because she had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon led to a life-changing wheelchair for her daughter Daisy and many others.
Gerry on how her ideas of what love truly is have changed over the years, and how love can be so much more than a feeling.
Matt Wilson on how God is weaving a tapestry – and knows what that looks like. He can see the big picture. Our part is to trust him with the threads he has given us.
Denise Griffiths on resolutions and why she has resolved not to make the usual New Year’s resolutions such as giving up chocolate, eating healthier or doing more exercise!
Vernon on the transience of life, and how, through all suffering, God’s steadfast love has the capacity to satisfy us every morning.
Andrew Greenhalgh on how he ended up going to church on Christmas morning for the first time at the age of 11 – and what it has taught him.
Helen on how preparations for Christmas vary from family to family and country to country. And what happened to Helen’s Lindt advent chocolates?