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Blog posts

This is a blog written by the Vicar and Associate Vicar, where we'll aim to post some thoughts about the Christian life and what's going on in the world. Hopefully you will find Christian encouragement there for your week, comment on current events and a few thoughts to stimulate your own thinking on topics that relate to being a disciple.

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Books Addressing Mental Health

 

Si Walker, 3rd April 2021


Following our first talk on The Christian's Mental Health, here are a few select resources relating to anxiety and depression.

books-mental-health-1

When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper


This my top read for those struggling with depression, or wanting to get a better idea of how to help others. It is a short book and could be read in one sitting. The gospel drips off every page and for someone struggling to find hope, this book could be very refreshing.

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Battles Christians Face: Tackling Big Issues with Confidence by Vaughan Roberts


The chapter in 'Battles Christians Face' on depression is worth buying the book. It is just 16 pages. Vaughan gives a fantastic brief introduction with a handful of helpful but not trite tips that are rooted in the Word. For the person asking, 'does the Bible have anything to say on this?' this might be the place to start.

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Victory Over the Darkness: Realising the Power of Your Identity in Christ by Neil T. Anderson


This book is excellent for addressing the root causes of emotional problems and deals with how to let the truth captivate you, as opposed to the devil's lies. It is a very practical book, which will unpack some of the things a good Christian counsellor would want to go through. The one word of caution, is that Anderson has written books which take (for simplicity of explanation) a very pentecostal approach to the devil and demons. This book is not one of those, however, and I believe it could be highly beneficial.

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I'm Not Supposed to Feel Like This: A Christian Approach to Coping with Depression and Anxiety by Williams, Richards and Whitton.


This is something of a workbook, with places to take notes and answer questions. It could be a helpful way to help identify what is triggering anxious feelings as it gives you various ways of processing what is happening in your thinking and experiences.

Do get in touch if you would like any further recommendations.

 

A Lent Reflection

 

Neil Smalley, 11th March 2021


A lent reflection by Neil Smalley, a member of St John’s.

Wandering through my mind, seeking the garden, and he let me find it. I didn’t want to say or ask anything; I just wanted him to know that I had come. To say I wanted to share anything would be presumptuous. His disciples were scattered, still, or sleeping under the trees, and I was left in Judas’ place. I needed him to know I wouldn’t run, as they had done. I just wanted to feel his last still moment of quiet envelop me, among the trees, moonlight above, dew-damp grass below.

His shadow moved from behind a tree, into my mind, and caught me unawares, exposed in my petty guilt, my hollow vanities, my shabby little sins. My serpent skin, glittering, beguiling, scaly jewels without, but all clammy, malodorous corruption within - the deceit I wear to hid my shame - all stripped away by his gaze; not condemning, not accusing, not even pitying, but more sympathising. Loving, in fact. The way my Mother looked when, as a child, I had fallen from grace, in her eyes. Disappointment, forgiveness, unqualified love, all in her one, untutored glance. As to her, all I could say to him was “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”

A cloud crossed the moon and drew down, around my shoulders, a cloak as dark as the tomb, dank cold as the stone. I feared the garden was blighted by my step, the blooms dashed by my glance, fruits poisoned by the vapour of my lingering guilt.

Then his loving gaze burned off the dark and cold, as the morning sun restores warmth to the day. There was joy as he said “Your time for sorrow has passed, and the guilt, and the forgiveness. All you have now is love and grace and joy. They are in all you have. Yes, you will fall again; you are not perfect, and there is still evil to be fought. There will always be those who will never let my wounds completely heal. When children suffer, my heart bleeds. When innocents are deprived, I hunger and thirst and shiver and sicken. When the old are neglected, I weep and grieve. My work of redemption is never-ending.

But you I have made safe. I have ransomed your soul from iniquity. My Father will not let you perish. With his love to assure you, with me to guide you, and the Spirit working within you, you will find peace. Love is the key. Love every man, woman and child as your own, as your Father loves you, and you cannot fail them. Uphold them, and you glorify the Father, you honour me, and you justify the gift of the Spirit. Remember only that love is the key”.

The trees stirred in a whisper of breeze. A thread of light ran across the rim of my mind, and I was alone; in stillness and silence, and at peace.

 

Advent Poem

 

Si Walker, 11th December 2020


An advent poem by Neil Smalley. Neil was a long-time resident of the Norfolk Broads and now lives in Cumbria.

Advent


This bright, still, frosted day, I walked the marsh, to drink in the last of November’s calm, before December makes the snow and fur fly.
Beyond Coldharbour’s steaming cattle, and on, past Womack Mill.
And there, in a grassy sea, my rime-capped boots brought me to
An old abandoned shearing shed. ‘Picture meat’ if ever I saw it.
So standing off, I quickly sketched the aged lines of board and post,
And after marking the line of the sun, I put away my pad and jumped the dyke
For a closer look at this interesting ruin.
I found, on circling, it opened fully to the east,
And inside, sheltering from the north east whisper,
A donkey and a bullock stood, side by side, munching quietly
On the long dried hay which trailed between the nosed-smooth bars
Of the frail and failing manger-
Held up, only by habit and shadow, on the back wall.
Both beasts turned to look, calmly, not moving, not eating now.
I reached for my pad again, but stopped.
Their eyes told me, kindly but firmly, I had no place in this hallowed ground.
Another time, perhaps, but for now this place is sanctified and prepared for others.
These humble creatures, these honoured guardians would wait alone,
Another moon, perhaps, until a bright-starred night
Would bring the Gentle Travellers to share their stable.
A pause, a brief rest, before continuing their journey
To the redemption of Mankind.

 

 

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