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Tag Archives: Christian ministry

Excellent review of Touching a Nerve by NZ Baptist

Brendan Boughen; (self-published), 2019, (p132)
ISBN 978-0-473-59343-7

Touching a Nerve has the explanatory subtitle of ‘A curly collection of churchy cartoons by Jim’.

Jim’ is the cartooning alter ego of Brendan Boughen. He grew up in the Lutheran church but left traditional faith in his 30s. He tells something of that move away in an earlier collection of cartoons called Gone Astray.

Despite, or perhaps because of, that personal shift, Boughen often draws about the connection between traditional religion, faith, politics, society and social justice.

Cartoon topics

The cartoons in Touching a Nerve sometimes poke a finger at core Christian beliefs. An example is an Olympic ‘mental gymnastics’ athlete who is in a sweat, struggling with the concept of virgin birth.

Others are simply  touching. One quotes Isaiah 52:7 about “how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news of happiness…”. The quote hangs in a clear blue sky, above a snow-capped mountain. At the base of the mountain are a school and hospital. Both bear the name of Edmund Hillary. The cartoon was drawn to honour Sir Ed on his passing in 2008. A helpful URL at the bottom of the page leads readers to the explorer and humanitarian’s obituary.

Many of the news-related cartoons have such URLs. Considering that several of them are about events that occurred six or more years ago, this ensures the point being made is not lost on readers.

Other cartoons in the book do not have an underlying message. These fall into the realm of ‘dad jokes’—humour that will either elicit a chuckle, smile or a groan, depending on your sense of humour.

The balance between all the cartoons in this collection means that it is a book that will have something for most people. This shows that some thought has been put into what was selected.

Thought-provoking ‘toons

The famous cartoonist Charles M Schulz, whose Peanuts  strips were fodder for Boughen’s imagination as a child, is said to have claimed that “those who find no humor in faith are probably those who find the church a refuge for their own black way of looking at life…”1

And, for this reviewer at least, it was ‘Jim’s’ more pointed cartoons about matters of faith that were most appreciated. I think it is helpful for Christians to examine how their beliefs align with their lived-out lives. Sometimes it requires someone else to prod us, to get this thinking in motion. And in Touching a Nerve, Boughen has provided a gentle stick.

Reviewer: Linda Grigg

You can see the review on the NZ Baptist website here:
https://baptistmag.org.nz/touching-a-nerve/

World is a challenging place

“The world is a challenging place and the future appears uncertain. We have a choice about how we respond – with despair or with hope.” From the sermon: Living with Real Hope

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 23

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Labour Day 25th October

(Nearest Sunday)

God of Nations, we are proud of ours and give thanks that we live in this country.
We are proud to own a founding document,
conceived in a time of peace.
Most treaties are the result of war,
but Our Treaty offers the hope of covenant.
We give thanks that we live in a place of peace and
good intention.

We know human rights do not simply happen,
they are initiated by people of vision,
Negotiated by people wanting justice,
and often achieved at considerable cost.
We give thanks for our forebears who worked for justice.

Despite our proud record of justice and
good working conditions,
Some of our citizens are exploited,
disadvantaged and dis-empowered,
Be with those who are working for justice now.

Despite our fine laws on human rights,
some of our citizens continue to be discriminated against, through circumstances of education, employment, race, disability, gender, and sexual orientation.

We pray for those who are over-worked,
and those who are unemployed.
We pray for the ill-treated, the un-treated,
the dis-empowered and the ignored.

We pray for all who oppress,
be they deliberately malicious or merely insensitive, bosses or bullies, law-makers or church-people;
may they be confronted by their actions
and moved to bring change.
May wisdom prevail.

We pray for families,
in all their diversities,
whatever form they take,
that love may prevail. Amen.

From: Lay Preaching Basics by Rosalie Sugrue (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 14

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 14

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Seventy-one

Create a quiet place in me, Lord
hush the babble of my mind
the racing of my pulse
then my heart will begin to hear
    your ‘gentle, murmuring voice’

Slow me down, Jesus
I need to take time
to see the beauty of creation
the exquisite intensity of your care
that way I’ll come to appreciate
    and be thankful

Teach me to listen, Abba
to the cries of those in need
the questions of the confused
    so I can learn compassion

In this unquiet world
help me to find a quiet place
    and a quiet time

Lord, I need to hear
the counsel of your spirit
the poetry of your love
then I’ll have something to share
    with those who cannot hear you.

From Redemption Songs by Mark Laurent (2016)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 7

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 7

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Psalm 7

O Christ of the poor and the maligned,
the suffering and the weak
we give thanks for your love
that binds us together
in our small congregations
in the broken east.

You know our struggles and our fears
our doubts and our burdens
our deep weariness
you are our constant companion
giving us the strength and inspiration
we need day-to-day.

We never feel like we have enough people
or enough resources
to meet the challenges
or respond to the needs
of this shattered place

But strangers are welcomed
food and drink is offered
someone listens when pain is shared
people are accepted just as they are
help is given in small ways

One day a week we gather
in a circle like a family
in a plain and ordinary place
to celebrate our faith and trust in you
to seek your guidance
restore our energy
keep our hope alive

It’s never easy but
we continue to find our way
through the mess and chaos
the grief and the loss
sustained by your life within us
and the warmth of community

So it hurts and angers us
when we hear that big wealthy churches
in the west of the city
don’t think that we are performing.

They say that we are not up to scratch
we are failing and should be shut down
we don’t match their vision
of what a church looks like.

Give us courage in the face of such judgement
and the laughter and wisdom
to deal with “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”

Help us not to get caught up in their negativity
but in your grace and joy.

O Christ, we thank you for your loving solidarity
with the widow, the poor, the small and the downtrodden.
In the midst of our struggles we are not alone.

From The In-Between Land: Psalms, Poems and Haiku by Mark Gibson (2015)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 5

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 5

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

Prayer

God of goodness, gaps, and glitches
help us to see each other for what we are.

God of struggles, strengths, and strategies
help us to cope with what we have.

God of difficulties, disabilities, and delights
help us find joy in who we are.

God of individuality and invisibilities,
enable us to understand how life is harder
for some than it is for their peers;
Give us a readiness to ease difficulties,
remove barriers,
and create level playing fields

Bless us with the will to appreciate
the courage, creativity, and skills
required to live with impairment;
along with the discernment to realise
impairment is merely a fragment
of personhood.

Empower us all to live in fullness,
valuing what we have,
and knowing we are loved. Amen.

From: Lay Preaching Basics by Rosalie Sugrue (2018)

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Prayer / Poem of the Week # 4

Prayer / Poem of the Week # 4

Come back each Monday night for a free prayer or poem from one of the books we have published.

33. A Farmer’s Prayer for Daily Work

O God, in the burst of spring growth,
let me rejoice.

In the first plantings of crops,
bring me hope.

In the summer heat,
shade me.

In the dried up hills
water me.

In the harvest work
sustain me.

In the big decisions
guide me.

In the autumn chill
warm me.

In the driving rain
shelter me.

From the howling winds
protect me.

In the slush and mud
encourage me.

In the lonely hours
stand by me.

In the beauty of each dawn,
let me wonder at your creation,
and the peace of the earth.

From The Shepherd’s Call – Te Karanga o te Hēpara:
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett (2018)

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