Thursday, June 16, 2011
Thank you so much for reading this blog and commenting and adding your ideas. I have really enjoyed writing on this blog and using blogger. However I feel its the right time to move and have a fresh start, so I will no longer be using this blog to write on but will be moving over to Wordpress. I hope that doesnt stop you from reading my blog and that you will be able to update your blogroll or rss to my new blog. :)
Why not grab a coffee and join me at my new blog where I will explain why I have moved!
Here is my new address: http://gospelsunshine.wordpress.com/
Thanks very much :)
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Apologies for not blogging in ages - we have had no Internet and thus had to resort to pen and paper for communication. It was traumatic, we nearly sold our car to get a horse and cart!
Anyways, I thought I would do a quick update of the blog sphere and highlight some interesting posts I have come across! Enjoy:
Ellie has blogged on Heaven and Hell and the art work of John Martin -
Possibly because, like Martin, we’re a bit too good at painting vivid terrifying pictures of hell, and pretty rubbish at pointing them to Christ: God, stepped into history to bring them into a relationship.
Bish has blogged on taking off your shoes:
The Exodus story is a story I need to make sense of life. It's a story that tells me my god is one who will turn up, who will fight for me. And if he doesn't then I'm stuck between the enemy and the sea, between the wilderness and the promised land. Shoes off... like when Jesus washed his disciples feet?
Gareth blogs about watching TV for the Glory of God
And (as someone else said, but I can’t remember who) when Jesus comes back, no-one will wish they’d watched more TV. But is this the whole story? I love TV. I don’t just enjoy lounging in front of it and switching my brain off – I love it as an artform, as a medium for communication, and as a tool for education.
Ed blogs his thoughts on the Song of Songs
The Song is one of my favourite books of the Bible, and the more i think about it and read it, the more i am convinced it's primarily about Christ and His relationship with the church. Or maybe even better, the Son of David and his Ideal Bride. But it comes to the same thing. I also think we lose something of the depths of the Gospel if we fail to view this book in this way. Just like we'd lose some of the depths of the Gospel if we read Galatians as being primarily about eating bacon, or Exodus as being about extreme desert survival.
Emily blogs some lovely pictures of Sheringham
Friday, May 27, 2011
I have just finished two brilliant books which I want to share with you, although I am behind the times so you have probably read them!
This book has been on my reading list for ages - probably because I thought it would be boring or just too much of a guys war book... but it is far from it! Its a wonderful story that is quite graphic in areas but it grips you and you cant put the book down. Set in world war I, we are taken through the horrific details of wartime trenches and the life of a soldier called Stephen. Its about finding and losing love. Its about idols and the heart wrenching truth of when they fail us. Its about the dangers of power and the lusts of youth. Its brilliant and worth a read...
2. Time Traveler's wife
If you have seen the film, well the book is better...and less confusing!! This is about a time traveller who juggles time travelling un-expectantly, a marriage and other events! This is such a clever story and all credit must go to the author. The film doesn't do it justice. This book is a mixture of romance and suspense. You will wonder how this will all work out till the very end... worth a read.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Last night the Christian Union had a bring and share dinner overlooking the sea as the sun was setting. We enjoyed the food and fellowship and most of all we enjoyed the sunshine that was keeping us warm. But as the sun was setting, several of us were beginning to shiver due to the heat of the sun becoming less and less. We tried to wrap up warm, but it wasn't the same. As I got home, I reflected on this and realised it was an image of Christ and our hearts.
We often think that as long as I go to church and my outward appearance looks Christian, then I am safe and I don't need to worry about my heart. But the real truth is that our hearts need Christ. Christ is like the sun to us, beaming his rays of warmth onto our heart, melting them, warming them to the point where they are inflamed with love and joy for Him.
But what happens when the sun sets and Christ is no longer warmer our hearts?
I reflected on Romans 1 as I study this letter with a student. We notice that Gods judgement is not what we expected - we think he should be throwing down wrath on the wicked, but God does something that surprises us. He leaves us in our sin. - "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1v28)
This may not seem like a judgement at all and we may see it as a way to do what we want. But when you think about Christ being our warmth and our source of love and joy, we are reminded that this judgement is terrifying. Gods judgement is to allow us to go further into our sins and for our hearts to become cold and dull. To not have Christ shine his warming love into our hearts, is possibly the worst kind of judgement on this earth!
As I read through Exodus, I come across Pharaoh and I am told his heart become hard and God hardens his heart...we get so caught in "who hardens who", that we forget that this is Gods judgement on the wicked - Pharaohs heart is so bitter and hard and far from Christ that he cannot be warmed - his heart is cold and the outworking of that causing great distress.
This cannot just be a warning to non Christians - but surely to Christians that dress up in Christianity or those of us who have hard hearts? You must ask yourself if your heart is adoring Christ, if the rays of his warming love is set upon your heart? Is your heart melting and becoming soft? “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3v15)...
Without Christ, just as the sun goes down, we become cold and dull. Keep in the fire of Christs love.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Have you ever wondered why God created you? Why you are here on this earth? Edwards hits the nail on the head which may seem surprising...
"God created the world to provide a spouse and a kingdom for his son: and the setting up of the kingdom of Christ and the spiritual marriage of the spouse to Him, is what the whole creation labours and travails in pain to bring to pass"
Saturday, May 07, 2011
It seems that Richard Sibbes has come back from the dead and he is living in the South West. And what a joy that is!
This is no ordinary book and you may think that it being self published means that the content is not as good. You couldn't be more wrong. This is a collection of Sibbes sermons which are made accessible for todays reader by Dave Bish and this is one book you wouldn't want to miss...!
Sibbes has a way of speaking to your heart because he is trying to draw you to Jesus and warm your heart. He is not ashamed to speak of the struggles of man and how hard hearted we can be and he is not ashamed to point us back to Jesus and invite us to sit by the fire of his love. He is also not ashamed to draw us to the picture of the bride and groom and he does this through the song of songs and its wonderful - when you read this you will see how much Christ loves the church, how much he is wooing his bride to himself. The pictures and the language are rich and I really believe they will give you a different outlook to how you see church and how you think Christ views you.
So if you are a Christian that feels like everyday is a struggle and your heart is cold or you have forgotten that Christ loves you so much and that you need reminding of how to fall in love with Jesus again - then you need to read this book....seriously. I actually think that even if you feel like your relationship is great, you should still read this book and allow your love for Christ to grow stronger. You can never have enough of Jesus.
Bish has done a good job here and I am not saying that because he is my friend and boss, but I am saying it because every time I read this book it made me look back at Christ and His word and Jesus made my heart softer and warmer each time. I so needed to read this and be reminded of Christs great love for me and for His bride.
So why not buy it here and see what I mean.
I would recommend that you take it in bit by bit, like fine wine or strong coffee - it allows you to enjoy it all the more!
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
People love weddings and they should. It should be a time of celebrating and rejoicing. Two people are coming together to be man and wife - one flesh and the apostle Paul says this is a mystery, a wonderful mystery that reflects Christ and the church and the beautiful love story that is told in the pages of the bible. A marriage points us to something greater and whether its a common wedding like mine or a royal wedding like Kates, it still points us to the greatest wedding of all - Christ and the Church.
Em Bish made a point of capturing the moment that Tim and I looked at each other for the first time as I walked down the aisle. The first time that the groom gazes at the face of the bride. Em reminded me that this is a glimpse of Christ gazing at His bride, the church, for the first time and what a splendour that will be! I know for me that when I first saw Tim, I nearly cried with joy. Imagine what joy the church will have when they meet Christ and see Him face to face. Imagine the awe and splendour and beauty. At that moment everything slips away, the past no longer matters, the worries fade away - you are caught in that glimpse and you will never want to turn your face away.
I loved my wedding day and I am enjoying the gift of marriage, but I am also looking forward to the great Royal wedding between Christ and the Church. But in the meantime let us continue to enjoy the reflection that marriage presents and the mystery behind it all.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
A couple of days ago I spoke about repainting ourselves online and how we express ourselves differently. On the otherside of that, Emma Scrivener wrote a really great blog about social networking and how it can be used in a dishonest way.
One of the challenges that was raised in our discussion of social networking were the dangers and uses of social networking. There are many dangers of facebook and twitter and other such social networking sites. But that flags up a challenge for us as Christians. What I notice so often is that as Christians we like to say "no". That is one danger of social networking for us - we will brand it as "evil" and abstain from it and we will feel good about it, in fact we will feel holy.
Don't you feel righteous when you can say "no" to facebook? Where you can give it up for lent? We just get a real sense of holiness that we are not entrapped by this new fad. That is a huge danger and I think we need to steer away from that and actually turn this all around because the reality is that the world is using social media to connect with people and you may argue that this isn't right - but it is how people are creating communities and as Christians we can bury our heads in the sands of time or we can can actually use this social media for good.
So I ask this question - "How can we redeem social media for Christ?"
Social networking isn't a sin, but what I find is that I struggle with it because it highlights or projects sin more clearly onto its blue and white pages. But the problem isn't facebook - those sins are in my heart already. So maybe I need to think about how facebook can expose my sin and how am I going to deal with that sin in my heart? (i.e take it to Christ and repent). Here is a picture of Mark 7:14-23 - what defiles a person is what comes from the heart! So if I see myself putting up statuses that I know will feed my pride and give me attention - then social networking will project that, but the sin comes from my heart first...
So lets redeem this social avatar, let social networking be a platform of displaying Christ. Lets think about how we use social networking - for who's gain is it for? Mindless gossip? stalking? attention seeking? or opportunities to bridge gaps in communities, to share the Gospel, to say encouraging things, advertising gospel projects or events, connect with people and to open our lives to people on one level?
But also social networking has a big arrow to the desires of the world - to be wanted, to be loved and to be a part of a community. Social networking fulfills that on one level and on that level we can get opportunities to share Christ and redeem all our activities on social networking for Christ. But then there is another level - the offline level, where real community is at, where we eat together, share life together and have face to face conversations. The social networking world is thirsting for authentic relationships, so then as Christians we need to fully give that when we are offline - in our church, in our street, in our job and in our relationships. There is no point offering a community and a relationship only through social networking and then ignore those who are next door to us!
I guess my concern is that we so easily open up when we are in front of a screen, but will we open our doors to those in need? Will we share the Gospel with those next to us on the bus? Will we invite that lonely person round for dinner? Will we open and share our lives with those around us? Will we eat with them and invite our non Christians friends to be a part of a community that loves, enjoys and encourages one another? Will we be that community?
What a challenge. What are your thoughts?
Monday, April 04, 2011
Where do I hang my self portrait? Where can the world admire or scorn it, comment on it and "like" it?
With each stroke of the brush and tap of the keys I upload my profile with quotes, captions and images. Here I am in written form - my self portrait on display. Social Networking is the gateway to all our own self portraits on display - its a gallery of creative musings, expressions and life. The question is whether its real or not?
At team days we had a discussion on social networking and the challenges and implications of using this type of media to connect with people. There were some debate on whether social networking allows us to hide behind the screen and re-invent ourselves online so that we could be whoever we wanted. And I could if I wanted to - I could pretend that I was an amazing tea-drinking musician that wears victorian floral dresses. The problem though is that my real friends would know that this isnt true and therefore would question me over this.
Perhaps we are all too suspicious? We think everyone is a fraud, trying to woo us to believing they are someone else, causing us to mistrust them and therefore we never enter into any deep relationships because we dont want to get hurt.
Lets turn this around.
Perhaps the portrait I project onto the social networking sight is the real me, perhaps its a space to invite others to see another side of me? Maybe social networking allows another way of being creative and connect with people which doesnt have to be disconnected with real life. What I say on here, is what I say in real life - let there not be a divide in "real life" and "social networking life". We need to be accountable in both and not separate them.
My self portrait is up on the canvas of social networking. I could repaint it, but people would know and challenge me. I could move to another country and repaint myself, pretend to like new hobbies and dress differently, but in reality my heart is still the same - I cannot run from that. My heart is still the same on a social networking sight and yeh for a while I could be someone else, but in the end I cant sustain that and why would I want to? And why do you expect everyone else to be an alias? Maybe we are all expressing ourselves in different ways that capture a particular instance of our identity that is projected onto our self portraits of facebook.
Not so different from self portraits of Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol...
All expressions of how they see themselves and none of them I would say are repainting themselves to be something they are not.
"My painting is a representation of life, my own life above all, which has been very difficult. So perhaps my painting is very violent, but this is natural to me." Francis Bacon Quote
Sunday, April 03, 2011
UK Coffee Week is approaching (4th-10th April) and below are a collection of postcards of the London Coffee Festival, which I love! I wish I could be in London and see it and be a part of it. However I will drink more coffee instead. Perhaps those close to London will blog about it?