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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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73 Responses to 795

  1. Forrest says:

    “Round and round she goes; where she stops nobody knows!”

    “Stop the church, I wanna get off!”

    “Will the circle be unbroken?…”

  2. beckyG says:

    Where are the ponies – I want a pony especially if it’s name is rainbow bright or some other My Little Pony concoction.

  3. miriworm says:

    So many church goers busy being busy or chasing the ‘next big thing’.

  4. Kim says:

    I think I understand what you’re getting at here, church life can keep people v busy but on the others side of the coin what about hanging out together, praying for one another, cooking the casserole and taking it round, babysitting for someone, feeding people who are on the streets? All these things are part of my church life too and they put a smile on my face :lol:

  5. JF says:

    If you’re on the carousel, it must make it very difficult to interact with someone who isn’t! Riding that carousel would make the outside world look like a dangerous, fast-moving place, full of perils. If however you’re stood with both feet planted on the ground, you can see the insular ‘reality’ of the brightly-lit whirligig for what it is.

    Seems you either fall off with a massive bump or you just stay on it, going round & round.

  6. Robb says:

    Anyone would think a gun was being held to the head of anyone on the ride or in the queue for tickets.

  7. Sophie says:

    Cake or death?

  8. beatthedrum says:

    I think the issue here is the legalism not the things themself.

    I love being part of a church where all those things are present and i am part of them.

    However its when they become a legalistic thing that they become an issue.

    I guess i dont do the guilt one very much but then I love Gods grace.

    Morning servcies – worshping the one i am in awe of in song, being with others who want to do the same, sharing our expriences of Him…. Fantastic

    House Groups -people standing beside me as I fulfil what Father has laced on my heart, praying for me, supporting me, loving me and me doing the same for them, Again would not miss it……

    Evening services… dont do them in our church but see morning service

    Prayer meetings… getting together to speak to my loving powerfull creator God / Father… to ask him to change me and the situations around me, to bless people, to heal people, to show them love… and doing it with other people who are also in awe of him… WOW count me in!

    Duty – not good if your ‘made to do it’ but serving… count me in I want to share love with my brothers and sisters just as my saviour jesus did for me. Serving.. great love it……

    You have also missed off –

    Hope… bringing hope to those in trouble

    Healing…. seeing people healed of their sickness

    Freedom…. seeing people freed of the things that bind them and stop them living in the fullness of a relationship with the creator God

    gathering…. gathering those who dont know Jesus, dont know God, and have a life that leads to death…. count me in

    Teaching…. lerning more about Father, what he has done in the past, what He is doing now and what he will do in the future, how he wants me to be, what he has promised me……. wow amazing count me in!

    The church is a wonderful God given place for us to relate to one another, support one another, share our experience of father together, encourage one another, lift each other up to Father and many many more things.

    I am fed up of people knocking the church. It is a gift fron God to us the people of God so we can gather and be sent.

    Praise God for the Church, Thank Him for it, commit to it as it is his idea and his plan for the world.

  9. beatthedrum says:

    oops bit of a rant sorry for the length of the post

  10. Jo says:

    God once gave me a picture of an old fashioned merry-go-round much like what you have drawn. I asked if I could get on and He said, ‘Yes, just ask it to stop.’ So I said, ‘Please stop.’ It stopped and I got on but it went too fast and I started to feel unhappy and a bit giddey so I asked God if I could get off. He said, ‘Yes, just ask it to stop.’ So I did and the merry-go-round stopped and I got off. I think God was trying to say to me that I was in control and could take things at my own pace. I only had to stay to stop and things would pause.

    Life is so hectic and church is so hectic sometimes we don’t make enough time for God through all our activity. ‘Stop the merry-go-round I want to get off and spent more time with God!’ actually I kind of want to get on the merry-go-around as I am looking for a church to pastor – but that’s another story.

    Can we still be on the merry-go-round and hear God’s voice – yes. Can we get off it and still hear his voice – yes. Life is crazy sometimes but at least God doesn’t let us down.

  11. I think all the things on the Carousel are good thing’s like beatthedrum pointed out. I think it’s the Carousel that’s bad!

  12. duttyo says:

    is this a nod to the trailer for the new Saw film?

  13. jonbirch says:

    i find i can agree with much of what both btd and jf say. the church, at it’s best is a place where people are loved and supported and come to gather to worship (guitars optional)… at it’s worst is a place that knackers the faithful. i’ve seen both.

    good story, jo.

  14. Caroline Too says:

    I love christian community that does supper and conversation as well, Kim (#4)

    but it seems to me that for most people all those carousel activities leave no time for genuine ‘communion’

    and I wonder, BTD (#8) if I don’t share your joy and delight at all these ‘carousel’ experiences does that mean:
    a) that I’m to blame?
    b) my church is to blame? or
    c) actually your experience is the exception that proves the rule?

  15. beatthedrum says:

    Not Caroline T00 (#9) it means that people are messy, and fallen, and unrepentant, and religeous, and annoying, and childish, and faithless. INCLUDING ME!! I am sure I make church painful for some people in my church as I am often some if not all of the above. And they do it for me. BUT I love the church and father has called me to be in a church.

    I would also say that there are many in the church who are not christians (stands back and waits to be flamed for being judgemental but i have seen this in my own church and having been a non christian in a church who thought i was a christian) and there is also a lack of regeneration in the church, IE the world comes into the church because we allow it in.

    Judgemental i know but also true. We have to love them and show them to Christ.

  16. jonbirch says:

    “the world comes into the church because we allow it in.” i thought that was half the point. :-)

  17. Robb says:

    I thought the world came in because God invites them….

  18. beatthedrum says:

    In terms of worldliness not as in the unsaved.

  19. rockingRev says:

    I suspect that for many people on the outside the church does just seem like a merry go round, going round in circles and getting nowhere. However when the church has a clear sense of purpose and direction that also is apparent and it is attractive. Often both types of church are apparently doing similar things so what is the difference?

  20. Robb says:

    BTD 18 – I am not even sure I can work out what that is supposed to mean.

  21. Pat says:

    Robb, I think that btd was using the terminology of ‘the world comes in’as a signifier for the church becoming adversly affected by certain values, rather than for those who are outside the church ‘coming in’.

    Jon, I can relate to this cartoon – and wish that it were not so :-(

  22. Robb says:

    But that in itself implies a sacred secular divide.

  23. beatthedrum says:

    Robb, I ment that we need to invite those who dont now Jesus in, but not allow ourselves to become worldly in our attitudes and way of doing things.

    Robb there should be a difference between those in Christ and those not in Christ, in terms of the way we conduct ourselves, how we show grace and love to others. We are regenerated they are not, we are being sanctified they are not.

    We are to be a light to them and salt…

    That means we have to be amongst them loving them and being amongst them.

  24. beatthedrum says:

    Add a yet to the second paragraph at the end

  25. Robb says:

    I thought I was called to be a better person than I used to be. There are plenty of people who are ‘better people than me’ whilst being by your definition “not sanctified” [yet].

    Good people inside church, bad people outside church? I think we may need a physician….

  26. beatthedrum says:

    no i would say dead outside of the church alive in it….

    its not about good and bad. I am no better than them or worse. But I am alive in Jesus

  27. Jo says:

    It’s a good think we have Jesus then Robb! At least he crosses the divide between the church and the outside world. I am not sure why we get it so wrong so often. Perhaps we fail to listen to the one who really is in charge of the merry-go-round?

  28. Caroline Too says:

    I don’t think that there’s much argument that we’re called to be a part of church

    … when defined as community, collaborators, partners…

    what’s in doubt is whether the current concept of ‘church services’ actually does the job well..

    I’m not alone in saying that the current penchant for 75 mins (more or less) on a Sunday (or some other day) is inadequate to building a community of growing, emerging Christ-followers.

  29. Robb says:

    Jo – that is the point I am stringing out.

    BTD – You have presented an argument where the good people are in church and leave the worldliness outside. ‘We’ are ‘regenerated’ and ‘sanctified’ and therefore ‘act differently’ and ‘not worldly’. Christians as evidence of God?

    My hypothesis on the basis of this evidence would have to be that there is no God. You would only have to look in todays paper to find evidence that Christians aren’t good people who hang out in churches.

    We need to get beyond this and to the point where we do what Jesus did – invite the broken people to meet with the God who they are persistently told they aren’t ‘good enough’ to come anywhere near and therefore never acceptable before the ‘religious people’ let alone ‘their God’.

    Which whenever I read Jesus words to the Scribes and Pharisees, religious leaders and almost anyone who’ll listen to him is pretty much what He said. It is his Good News.

    [And that does not mean I am saying “sin lots, it will attract people into church”. Nor does it mean I am saying “don’t try to be a better person” – that was my opening gambit – being called to be better.]

  30. jonbirch says:

    robb, caroline… agreed.

  31. dubb says:

    does noone here love fast rides at funfairs?
    or am i missing the point? :)
    maybe it need a few excitable teenagers on it…

  32. think robb your twisting beatthedrum words a bit, reckon you’re smart enough to know exactly what is meant. As for words like “sanctified” it’s in the Bible, you know?

  33. Carole says:

    Robb – that’s a good’un! Dubb – nah, hate fast rides at the fun fair – I have a very low terror threshold!

  34. BlackXanthus says:

    Surly we shouldn’t be “inviting people”, which rather infers that we are wanting them to come to us.

    To be Christ-like, we should be with them, where-ever they are.

    The Carousel is a bit of a problem. We forget that the cycle of Morning and Evening Prayer (something that Anglican Vicars sware to do at their Ordination) is something that comes to us from the old Monastic Traditions (which, in turn, are based on the idea of a Cycle of Prayer after St. Paul’s Call to “Pray Continuously”). The Church is also trying to modernise, to offer more things for more people to get involved in, to increase in Rational and Practical Theological Discussion (Bible groups, etc), and explore Mysticism (in various forms), to find the right mix.

    The problems in trying to build a sensible selection of activities to please everyone in a Church means that you end up with complaints from one group or another.

    The biggest problem with the Carousel is that idea of “expectation”. That’s the peer pressure put forward by others about what you “should” be doing for you Church. This is very difficult to deal with, because it’s partly based on Human Nature, and partly based on Tradition, mostly laid down by the people for whom Church IS their community, normally from an older generation (but not always). The rest of us have moved on, and live an almost strange dychotomy between what we do with our Religious Life, and what we do in our Secular Life. The calls on our time are many and complicated, and something has to give.

    What we need to remember is that your not just a Christian BECAUSE you make MP, or EP etc, you are a Christian, full stop. What ever you do, you are a witness. So, don’t worry about the Carousel, do what you can, and carry the light with you.


  35. Hazel says:

    Brilliant as always. Going to have to stop looking at these, just feeds my cynacism (then again, maybe not, I’m addicted!) Kim @ 4 – I’m jealous! And I’m with Caroline @ 14.

  36. Hazel says:

    PS Jon, can I email you with an idea for a cartoon? Can’t find an email address on here – am I being thick?!

  37. subo says:

    i love funfairs and bumper cars, and yet they often leave me with a sense of having been ripped off, it looked so good ……..

    sometimes i get a similar feeling from church – ‘we’ll give you community, and every wonderful aspect of belonging to this exclusive (cult) church, with our amazing leader who’s stumbled on the truth’ (accidentally) it sounded so good ……….

    recently i read a some info on cult groups, and the characteristics. to be honest loads of church’s would fit snugly into that box, and there’s never a reality check (- don’t look too closely at how your feeling)

    just because the imitation stuff wants to suck the blood out of you, doesn’t’ mean the real thing isn’t good, and for me, thats the test, how does it feel? is it good to be here? i really do think God gave us church as a good place to be, to live, flourish, find yourself just smiling. and then we created structures where no one’s really having any fun, because we ignore the way God asked us to set things up

  38. Laura says:

    I think we may all be assuming that this is the only ride at the fair.
    The folks in the cartoon are saying they are skipping this particular ride- one full of guilt, expectations, house meetings etc.
    Who is to say the ride next to it won’t be more their “style” and they will queue up to ride again and again?

  39. youthworkerpete says:

    I’d be interested to know what a ride you would go on would look like!

  40. Pat says:

    Jon – Just noticed that the chicken on top still has its head – Shome mishtake, shurely? :lol:

  41. Robb says:

    Yes John Fitzsimmons as you point out it is in the bible. That is the book where it says “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” not “we have been sancitfied by always doing the right thing”.

  42. subo says:

    perhaps this works as a re-write of Corin 13, where Paul bluntly states ‘without love, your a clanging gong’, so could you say ‘without love, your fellowships like a circus ride’?

  43. Hazel says:

    Laura @ 39 – an interesting thought! And what about the people lying on the ground – are they “slain in the spirit” or what?!

  44. Tiggy says:

    I used to have friends when we were teenagers who felt really neglected by their parents because they (the parents) were always out at some church meeting or other.

    Beat the drum – I don’t find people in the church to be any more salt and light than those I meet outside of it. Do you?

  45. Pingback: Why Some People Leave The Church « neo-baptist

  46. beatthedrum says:

    I guess I do Tiggy so on that we differ

  47. hjdx says:

    Perhaps they don’t want a go on the ride because they’ve lost their prosthetic legs… I’d be sad if I had to hop home too! :-)

  48. Mark says:

    I think this post is great because it sums up so well the feelings I have about church and which I have struggled to articulate. Having been the person on the side wanting to give the ride a miss, I’m now missing all the good stuff Kim mentions – especially the community it offers. Can you have the good stuff without the crap?

  49. Tiggy says:

    I wouldn’t want to spend all my time involved in church activities when there’s a whole world out there full of wonderful people to meet. My church is always running courses. I’m surprised they don’t turn them into NVQs. It’s as though you’re constantly being told you aren’t acceptable as you are. I’ve nothing against personal and spiritual development, but I think it’s a lifetime thing, not a race. They seem to have bought into this whole success culture that’s been mediated by various secular gurus.

  50. Allatsea says:

    In my church (I don’t go but I still count it home and miss it), my devotion to Christ is sometimes or often questioned. I couldn’t be sure which.
    I’m pretty sure that I would be judged as the ‘attending but not truly Christian’ if people decided to categorise.
    In my humble opinion, some people are better at looking the part, mostly in their own strength. Unfortunately or fortunately, I’m pretty rubbish at looking the part. Always have been.
    I have a sneaking suspicion that God is at work all over the place, in and out of church, and seeing things very very differently.
    The split-personality God promoted in a lot of churches makes me feel physically sick at times. Then I look around at the trees, the sea, fields…..and everything in me knows that God is good.
    What am I going on about? Goodness knows!

  51. Tiggy says:

    Sorry, did you mean ‘the split-personality God’ that is promoted in churches or ‘the split-personality that God promoted in churches?

    If the former, what do you mean?

  52. Allatsea says:

    Ah, yeah, I see why you could be confused. Reminds me of a teacher at school reading sentences in different ways depending on where you stick the comma! I meant the former: there should’ve been a comma after the word God :p
    After a really juicy sermon or a stern talking to from someone doing far better at it all that me, I’m sometimes left with the feeling that God’s like the worst kind of abusive father: loving some of his children passionately and unconditionally, and ready to throw others into eternal fire because they can’t/won’t/don’t live up to parental expectations. It makes me think of stories like ‘a child called it’.

    I guess something tells me that’s not the full story though…..

  53. Tiggy says:

    No, it should have been, ‘The split-personality God that is promoted in a lot of churches…’

    I did actually read it wrong at first, but yes I am a teacher. :-)I also do proofreading.

    Christianity is a strange religion and when I taught RE in school I really found it difficult to make enough sense of to teach. I think God is presented even in the New Testament as having a split-personality. Maybe the change in perception hadn’t fully taken place.

  54. Jason says:

    Hi Jon,
    It’s been a while since I checked out your site and I have really enjoyed it this morning.
    I’ve been exploring much of what you are saying, with words rather than pictures but there are so many of us on this journey.
    Thank you for the challenges and insights, tears and laughter.
    For me it’s my frustration with what is and the inner compulsion to search for something greater than we’ve yet seen.
    I think if we (the church) can continue to engage in the conversation, with each other and with God, we’ll probably get there in the end.
    Bless you, Jason

  55. Allatsea says:

    I think I meant to write:
    The split-personality God, promoted in a lot of churches, makes me feel physically sick at times.
    I was taught that, in this senytence, “promoted in a lot of churches” would be an interpolation. Is that right? Did I remember something from GCSE many moons ago?
    Ha ha ha :-)
    I have to write a dissertation this year so I really ought to get these things straight ;)

  56. now you’re twisting my words robb seems to be a habit

  57. Tiggy says:

    A sentence like that shouldn’t really need commas if written more clearly using ‘that is’.

    I think an interpolation is where something is added in at a later date. I would call it a sub-clause.

    What’s your dissertation on?

  58. Allatsea says:

    Well, I’ve got to pick by the end of next week but probably something related to sexuality and mental health. Maybe suicide or self harm. I’m also keen to link in faith/religion if I can :)

  59. subo says:

    all the best with the dissertation, allatsea.

    I first read comment 60 in relation to the cartoon – which works quite well

    ‘merrigoround style church increases risk of sexual confusion, mental distress, suicidal thoughts and has also been linked with an increase in self-harm’

  60. Tiggy says:

    Cool, sounds interesting. When you’ve done it I’ll proofread it for free if you like.

    How about ‘How ‘no sex before marriage’ preaching leads to depression in older single Christian women.’?

  61. corey dobbs says:

    erm, i dont really get this site at all does anyone find them funny? or are they suposed to be clever

  62. Carole says:

    Er…never mind, Corey…thanks for dropping by. ;)

  63. jonbirch says:

    never mind carole… corey is probably right. i’ve met the guy who does these so-called cartoons and he is neither clever nor funny! :lol:

  64. jonbirch says:

    he is, however, very handsome. :lol:

  65. Carole says:

    …you forgot ‘modest’! ;)

  66. Hazel says:

    @63, they are hilariously funny. They are also very clever.

  67. jonbirch says:

    thanks hazel. :-)

    oh yes, carole, sorry. i am also stupendously and enormously modest. :-)

  68. Tiggy says:

    Never mind, you’re a good producer. Keep practising with the artwork – you’ll get there eventually. ;-)

    Never criticise an artist – look what it did to Hitler!

  69. Caroline Too says:

    actually Jon, I would have thought that your modesty wasn’t your greatest gift….

    your cartoons are much better :-) :lol:

    tu es un *

    and I so like asterisks!

  70. Hollis Whitaker says:

    Interesting. I have seen this before.

  71. beatthedrum – church is God’s idea? well yes i agree…but is the church i see represented in the various denominations i see actually God’s design? i don’t think so…

    Corporate fellowship is an essential part of being a fruitful Christian…and yet ‘church’ often seems to be more about getting people to join that church and to become like them, rather than to join the church to become more like Jesus. This, right here, is fellowship for me of one sort – my child is asleep and my other 2 boys are at a holiday club. my wife is working so I am left alone…but seek fellowship where I can, including posts like this.

    When water is added to a glass it makes the level in the glass change…in a church water added to a glass seems to be told to stay silent until it can only join if that level remains the same…when my 1st child was born my family changed…church all too often seems like an exercise aimed at stability and comfort rather than preparing us to go back out to share the love of Christ with those we meet.

    Church should lead us to a radical and life changing experience of Jesus Christ, not into a life of becoming like the people we are spending time with in that church…nothing is inevitable…we need to be as much like salt in our churches as in our life outside the church.

    Even more exciting would be see ministers up and down the nation making clear the fact that their ‘ministry’ is no greater a calling than mine looking after my children…unless all animals are not created equal?

    Yes I’ve been hurt and burnt more times than I care to remember but I always end up back at church because I know I need that fellowship…just wish it was far less painful and than that I was allowed to get on with working out my faith in Jesus rather than the pressure to put my faith in yet another failed human like me.

    Mercifully my family and I are in a church where we feel free to worship God and where we leave on a Sunday feeling ready and prepared with our ministry for the coming week. It has been a long time since we felt like this!

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