Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Glance at Galatians Pt 5

Pt 5 :: Justified by what?

Galatians 2:15-21, I feel is the heart beat of Galatains. I can´t take my eyes off the significance of these words and how, if grasped, can change your life. Most of us wouldn´t call ourselves pharisees - those proud, harsh religious folk that just stay in their religious bubble and outwardly do what seems all the right things and not be involved in any secular things what so ever. Or maybe that sounds more like us then we think.

When you think of works, what do you think? We know that doing good works won´t justify you, we know that we are justified through faith in Jesus. Thats what Galatians says, but what does that mean? Does it mean we never do good works? But what about the law, im not a Jew therefore I am not under the law.

I think there is a twist in this. We are not under the law, infact if your a gentile - you were never under the law. But there is a tendancy to rely on our works then have faith in Jesus. You see, having faith and loving Jesus should from that flow abundant joy and good works - but those good works should not be what justifies us and what makes us proud.

Think about when you read your bible. How do you feel? You either feel very good with yourself for managing to make time to read it out of your busy day or you feel guilty because its been months since you last read it. And we think that these feelings affect our relationship with God. This is a danger that every Christian faces - we base our spirituality on what material things we do. When we hear others that don´t read their bibles, we start to put on our spiritual badge and remind ourselves..."well I get up at 5am everyday to read my bible..." Suddenly a spring of pride and bad attitude flows and we start looking more like that Pharisee, because infact the point of reading our bibles is to know Jesus more and to treasure him, not to gain points.

One of my favourite quotes from Relay 1 was :: "If you think that 5 quiet times in a row is excellant, then you need to compare it to Jesus on the Cross - which is better?" I think it puts everything into perspective and means that it is good and wonderful that we are justified because of Christ and because of having faith in Him and not by works or deeds, but because of Jesus. It means we stop looking at ourselves and stop asking ourselves how we feel, how are we doing, what good things am I doing, instead we can start focusing on the One that matters most.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Navidad in Peru

So Christmas has gone and been and what an experience!! Firstly it doesn´t feel like Christmas because its boiling hot here. I am use to the air being able to freeze your face off and sometimes snow on the ground, so being in a place where there is music about snow and outside there is burning hot sunshine - its slightly strange!! But what was nice was being with the family. In Peru they celebrate Christmas on the 24th at Midnight where they have the Christmas dinner and open presents with fireworks going off at Midnight. Its a time for family and for remembering the birth of Christ. It was a very special day and I enjoyed it a lot, it was also followed by a British Christmas with turkey and crackers!!! woohoo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What we value

Tim Chester writes:
We follow numerical success. We pursue career paths. Church leaders look like company directors. Conference speakers look like entertainers...
Evelyn Ashley suggests that while in the west we´re not scandalized by the cross itself, we are scandalized by leadership modelled on the cross: "Somewhere along the line, we seem to have fallen in the same trap as the Corinthian Church. We have come to value power, control and success"
But the apostle Paul suggests we should respect those christians who work hard, face danger and suffer for the gospel.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Glance at Galatians Pt 4

Pt 4 :: Discipline in the church and in Peru

How do we feel when we get told off? It feels like we are at school and the teacher writes in red pen in your note book "see me". *gulp*.
But what about in church? What does discipline look like in church? I think its very easy to switch off from this and not really see it as important. But something I have learnt is that there is discipline in the church in Peru and they take it seriously. I have heard of cases where people have done things like adultary or stealing etc have been made an example of in front of the whole church and been taken out of ministry. I wonder what your first reaction would be of that? I also wonder how you would classify which sins need to be most disciplined?

Sometimes we shy aware from discipline and say that we cannot judge the other person and therefore should not discipline them if they have sinned. But I wonder whether thats biblical? No im not saying that what peruvians do here is an example, but it made me realise how seriouse dicipline is here and how they view sin.

Have a look at Galatians 2:11-14. Paul openly in a letter tells of his rebuking of Peter. Why would Paul include this? I think Paul was showing his love for Peter and the use of discipline and that its good to discipline one another because he wants the church to live for Jesus and show the truth of the Gospel and he wants to encourage them to seek that in each other and sometimes that means rebuking and challenging one another.

Its hard though, especially when you live in a culture that says that you can do what ever you like, that you are King of your world and no one can tell you otherwise. But perhaps the truth is, is that the church needs to exercise discipline as well as Grace and this can only happen with a love for the people and a conviction of the word of God. I dont think its something to be feared nor should discipline occure without help provided, but there is discipline in the bible and God disciplines those whom he loves. But what would that look like in the church now?

I am just throwing out a lot of questions. Do come back to me on them!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Glance at Galatians Pt 3

Pt 3 :: Remember the Poor

There is much to say about chapter 2 at the start. But there is one verse that strikes out to me:
v10 "Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do." Firstly Paul has been accepted by the other apostles - his testimony is true and the gospel he is sharing is real. There have been a lot of false teachers about, so you have to be careful! But right at the end, after accepting him they wanted him to remember the poor and Paul was eager to do this!

I have been reading a book on intrigual mission - putting the proclamation of the Gospel and the demonstration of the Gospel together. It means speaking and living the Gospel - action without words and words without action just don´t work. They work together as two blades that make a scissor. Some may think that all you have to do is just tell the Gospel and thats it or all you have to do is give someone a bottle of water and they will get it. But they wont. There has to be both.

But what of the poor? Have you ever noticed how God really cares for the poor and the widowed? (Zach 7:10, Amos 2, Isaiah 61:1 and more) Yet its easy for us to ignore them, its easy for us to pretend that they are not there. But its hard when its all around you, when you have slums on your doorstep or as walk down the street there are children asking for money. So what do you do? I dont have an answer, but I am thinking about the question a lot. I can´t give to everyone in Peru but equally I cant ignore them.

Why is it so difficult to reach out to them, not just with words of the Gospel but with love and compassion? Why doesnt it affect our hearts that there are people going hungry every night and even worse there are people that dont know Jesus. Sometimes our hearts can become very dull. And yet Paul is told to remember the poor. To remember the needy. What does this look like really, in Peru and in England?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Confidence in the Gospel

What happens when we lose our confidence in the Gospel?
When we find that we haven´t been rooting our identity in Christ?

Its really easy to depend on feelings and I find it easy to depend heavily on my feelings while in Peru especially when your not being fed spiritually at church. But regardless where you are or what situation you are in, its important to keep our confidence in the Gospel and to remind ourselves of what the Gospel says. In the book by Tim Chester - "The Ordinary Hero" he writes about what it means to live in the light of the Cross and Resurrection and there is one bit that he wrote about thats really challenged me and helped me here. He says that if we have confidence in Gospel truths then it will affect our actions and our heart:

  • If you´re confident that God loves you, then you´ll love other people
  • If you´re confident that God died for you, then you´ll lay down your life for other people.
  • If you´re confident that God loved you while you were still his enemy, then you´ll not complain when other people let you down.
  • If you´re confident that God´s gracious to you, then you´ll be gracious to other people.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Glance at Galatians Pt 2

Pt 2 :: A True Testimony

In Galatians 1, Paul wants to make it certain that he has a true testimony and that the Gospel he preaches is the true Gospel. At the time there was a lot of false Gospel teachers around that were leading the Galatians astray and so its important that this is the true Gospel. So I am going to look at how he describes his testimony...

But firstly: When asked to do your testimony what is it normally about? I guess you. You (including me) say that I was like this, then I knew Christ and then I changed...I stopped this and this and no longer did this and I was full of Joy. Sometimes our testimonies can be more about how we saved ourselves rather then Christ saving us. But Pauls testimony is extreme and holds an interesting framework as well as a great hope.

Before he knew Christ, Paul has a lot to boast in, being a very zealous Jew! But he persecuted the church and was zealous for all the wrong things. He was going after righteousness through works when really Paul needed Grace. Like perhaps many of us before knowing Christ - we were running after the wrong things, thinking they would give us somethng that would fulfil us. But we are actually running the wrong way.
But something amazing happened to Paul that is apart of his testimony and yet he didnt do anything to deserve it nor did he do anything to recieve it.
In verse 1:15-17, Paul says that God did several things:

  1. He set Paul apart before he was born
  2. He called Paul by His Grace
  3. God was pleased to reveal Jesus to Him
  4. God commisioned him to preach among the Gentiles.

In many ways I find this is a rhythm to our testimony, that actually before we knew Christ we were zealous for the wrong things and then it was God that saved us, it was God that set us apart and called us by His Grace. It was God that was pleased to reveal Jesus to us and it was God that has told us to share Christ with everyone. Isn´t it amazing that God was pleased to reveal Jesus to us, considering all that we have done and do - he is pleased. We did nothing to change our lives around, it was all Christ.

I find that there is so much hope in this. That no matter how bad we were or cut off we were, infact it is God that brings us back and its not based on our merits or what we do! What Christ did on the Cross and what he is doing now in our lives is more powerful then what we were or are like or what Paul was like! It gives us hope that when we preach Christ and the true Gospel that it is God that changes lives and is pleased to reveal Christ!! We therefore need to keep looking at the Cross and keep reminding ourselves that our testimony is based on what Christ has done and not what we have done.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Time or Event orientated?

One thing for sure is that culture is different all around the world. Culture within culture is different and you can´t escape culture - you are in it. This is seen by how you dress, what you watch, what you do in your spare time, how your family functions, how you view people, how you communicate and how you see things as right and wrong. No culture is perfect, but we can learn from each culture.
I have been learning a lot about peruvian culture and my own culture. Its very easy to tar with one brush, but I can only comment on what I see, which I know is limited.

I come from a culture that has very high stress levels. Everything is about time and nearly everyone wears a watch. Time wasting is seen as bad. If you have left someone waiting for 10 min you have to apologise for wasting their time. Because time is precious and the more effeciant you are with time the more you get done. When I was doing Relay I had a 2 hour planner that allowed me to plan and schedule everything down to eating and sleeping - this was so I got more done in the day. Although honestly it was very hard to keep. But in the west this is normal, time is a priority and we cant waste it.

But I have now entered a new culture and the use of time is different. The culture here is seen as more event orientated. The concern isnt about how much time I spend with a person or if I am late, the concern is the people I am with and the event taking place and whether I am making the most of it. Its made it clear to me that when I was in England it was very easy to think of the next thing. For example, when I am in the middle of a coffee with someone I think about what time it is, how long left and whats the next thing I am gonig to do (not always, but sometimes)... But that kind of attitude doesnt fit here - its out of place because if I show this attitude it means I am saying that I dont care about the person I am with or the event I am in and I am more concerned about the task ahead. Although, even in England - what does that show about my attitude?

It is difficult not to compare and we must adapt to what ever culture we are in. I also know that one isn´t better then the other, but I wonder as a christian whether sometimes our attitude to time isn´t good? Sometimes we need to slow down and start to spend time with people and not worry about the task ahead or trying to get done as much as possible in a day. Sometimes my days here are filled with being with people and not having a diary but just seeing what happens. I know this doesnt suit everyone and it can be frustrating, perhaps some would see that a waste of time. But it changes the way you think and how you view each moment. It means you dont fill your diary up with thing after thing and not leave any room for a person to call or drop by. Its also one way to build relationships and share the Gospel that suits this culture and I am learning so much from it. But how much of this will stay with me when I return and how much of it will be recieved well or seen as a waste of time?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A glance at Galatians Pt 1

Looking through the lens...

Currently during my quiet times I have been going through Galatians, feasting on its richness and trying to absorb it in. Its difficult to be fed spiritually when you cant speak the language but its equally encouraging to read a letter like Galatians and know that there are some universal truths that will always remain. I am going to explore some of them with you and write up my thoughts and how it is helping me here. Its not going to be an indepth study, but its going to be a glance and hopefully a helpful one at that...

Pt 1 :: One True Gospel

How easy is it to desert Christ? When you think about it right now, its very easy to say that it would never happen. Right now, we can be sure that we would never desert Christ or follow a different Gospel, but what about tomorrow or next week when Christ doesnt seem to fit into my modern living or when God doesn´t feel so close - what happens to our heart? Is it a time where we turn to Christ or desert Him?

What I have noticed in Galatains is Pauls shock to how quickly they are deserting Christ (1v6). And the way they are deserting Him is by going to a different Gospel. Pauls message to the Galatains is very clear - there is only one true Gospel. If anyone preaches something different to this, they are accursed! (1v8-9) This is no fluffy language, Paul is hitting it between the eyes and is making it clear that the Gospel is true and precious. Nothing can match to it, but yet people want to distort it - some days I want to distort it. Why? Because some days the message of the Gospel has razor sharpe teeth and bites hard, it shows me all of my sin and cuts through my pride. The problem is, is that I want to rule the Gospel rather then let the Gospel rule my life, I want it distorted so that it pleases me and allows me to live an easier life. But the message is clear - there is only one true Gospel and it if we are to follow Christ then He must rule over us. IF we reject or change the Gospel then we reject Christ and we are accursed.

This makes me think alot. I have to be careful about what I say when talking about the Gospel through bible studies, teachings or working with students. I am held acountable with the words I use and I have to check myself - am I telling the true Gospel or a watered down, different Gospel?
Not only do my words count but also my actions do. Am I telling the Gospel in love and Grace with a heart for the person and our relationship or because I see them as a project or to win evangelism points? Sometimes our actions can shout a different Gospel and this to is dangerious.

But the great thing about there being a one true Gospel is that we know what our foundation is, we know the truth in which we stand on and we can trust it. We can trust Jesus and while I am here in Peru where there is much distortion of the Gospel, especially in catholisim here, then I need to be sure what is real and what I can grasp hold of and pour my heart out with. Its very easy to get trapped and apathetic, but I dont want to do that because the one true Gospel is bringing good news to the lost and they so need to hear it here, they need that truth and security and to know the Love of Christ and how their sins can be forgiven. Paul was so right in expressing such hard language here, he knew how important and precious the Gospel is and how it needs to be treasured and how we need to warn our hearts against distorting it, because once we begin to distort it we start to move away from the hope we have to a complete darkness of superstition.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Just Living in Peru

I guess one of the questions most asked is - "What is it like to live in Peru?". I guess when most people think of mission or perhaps South America, you think of mud huts, half naked people and eating strange food. I assure you that its not like that here. There are many differences to England, but actually they are not bad differences and I have not experiences culture shock, although I am sure it is to come... but let me share with you some differences...

  • They have a small breakfast, a huge lunch and a small dinner...
  • They wake up very early, 5/6 am and go to bed early 9/10pm
  • The sun sets at 6pm everyday
  • You don´t put the toilet paper in the toilet but in a bin.
  • They have more amazing fruit here and its fresh!
  • They have pasta and rice for nearly every meal
  • The buses are very cheap and they cram as many people as possible in them - its quite fun!
  • I am living in a desert.
  • They love to play games at parties, no matter what age the people are!
  • They take spending time with people seriously and are not "time orientated" but "event orientated"... so when something starts at 7, people wont show up till 8 or later, that can be for anything!
  • I live amoung mountains and volcanoes
  • We have earthquakes here
  • They eat purple maiz...well its more of a jelly, so they drink it - its nice!!
(The picture is of the city I am living in at the mo, and the volcanoe is El Misti)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Ministering Cross Culturally

Recently I have been reading a book about Cross Culture mission while being in Peru. It has struck me that mission is much more then just giving an explanation of the Gospel, but there is a a huge part of sharing the Gospel which requires us sharing our time and lives. This can be hard if we are from a culture that demands the use of our time to be for certain use and pressures, such as work, or meetings or other things. But I have been challenged by the Peruvian culture that time to be with each other is a good use of time and a great oppertunity to share the Gospel, not just only with words but with our use of time and relationships.

What I think tends to happen is that we and myself included is share a British culture Gospel to the mission field, be that Peru, France or Asia... the problem is, is that British culture is by no means the standard at which the world should live and the cultural things that we have and do can restrict us and imprison us. So when we share the Gospel there can be an emphasis on British time keeping or way of doing church or CU or anything like that which fits well in our culture but not in a different culture. There isn´t much we can do about some of them, but in some ways we need to be ready to integrate and change in order to be flexable. Because the Gospel can reach all cultures and its the Gospel we have as our standard and how to live as a body of Christ and how to love one another.

There is a brilliant quote in this book that I want to share:

"We must understand that transforming a society does not mean moving people from their prison (culture) into ours but rather helping them to know Christ and be transformed personally and communally into people and communities of the Spirit. If we are to minister successfully to the members of a different society, therefore, we must learn about and participate in their culture" - Ministering Cross Cultrally, pg 120

I wonder how that would not only translate in different countries but in Britian when trying to reach internationals. How can we reach the Gospel to them when sometimes it may fall on deaf ears because we have not shown respect and interest in their culture first and we have not learnt ways to communicate to them that will build relationships with them?

Or we have tried to impose our culture on them rather then sharing Jesus with them?

It makes me think a lot about how barriers can be put up straight away just because we dont understand the culture and where they are coming from as they enter our churches or CUs.

So the question is, how can we as Christians reach international people as they enter our churches with an understanding of their culture that will enable us to reach them with our lives and the Gospel rather then a British way of doing things?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hola from Peru

So here I am. Home for the next year or so. The dust of the streets clinging to your clothes, the smell of street food vendors, feeling like a giant among a crowed of people (impressive for someone 5"3), being introduced to many people and not understanding a lot. In some ways I am relying more on God then ever. You know when Paul says in Philippians 3 that he counts everything as loss for the sake of Christ? That he cannot boast in anything but the cross? In many ways I connect with that, because right now I cannot boast in anything. I cannot communicate with people and my pride has been dashed from me (which is good), to be honest, the only thing I can boast in is Christ. He is the one that is with me, He is my Shepard, and understands me when noone else can - that is a comfort. I dont really have anything I can cling on to here except Him...and its good. Its good to know that the Gospel is true and that there is nothing else worth boasting in except Christ and the Cross.

What does it mean to be a Relay worker here? Its not like Exeter. In some ways I was more tempted to stand on my knowledge and understanding - but that is somewhat unhinged when your in a different culture, when you cant speak the language. I believe sharing the Gospel is so important, but what if you cant speak? I wonder how Paul managed in places where he couldnt speak the language?

But from what I have seen, I think the next step is to show the Gospel, by how we love, live and how we are in church and towards the people in church and to the poor and in everything. My mouth is stappled shut, but I know Jesus and He can still use me, even with my poor spanish. At this stage I cannot do anything else and I hope when I get the words, then they will accompany the actions.

Its a slow process, its not a quick Two Ways to live sketch (even though its a good thing to use), but its about sharing your life with everyone and sharing Jesus. Its amazing how Jesus can use us in ways we never thought possible or even how we think we should do it.

It is different here, but I love it and I know its hard at times, but I have to cling on to Jesus everyday... :O)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Relay in Peru - The next step

Two years ago this summer I was sitting on the porch of a farm house in the Andes, Peru. I was talking to God and realising that the month in Peru was coming to an end. I asked Him "Will you call me back here?" and He replied, "Yes, but you have to wait"

Lets fast forward a year and I am now in a crowded room full of students and new Relay workers. John Piper is speaking and he asks all those that believe that God is calling them to mission to stand. I was on my feet. Standing in a room full of students that felt that God was calling them to mission abroad. The room buzzed with excitement and fear. What was God going to do now that we were willing to go?

Now today here I am, with Relay over and a summer packed full of visits, outreach, rest and reading coming to an end.

As I look forward I see that two weeks today I leave this country and follow Jesus into Peru to do the next part of Relay. I will be learning Spanish for 3 months and then for the remaining months I will be working alongside the Student movement and help them encourage and equip Peruvian students to reach their non Christian friends on campus. There is also the task of building up a CU there with the help of the student movement.

I am aware of my weaknesses right now and very much aware of how much I need Jesus. I cannot do this without Him, it is not possible. I believe that this time in Peru is such a gift and I want to treasure it and enjoy it and serve God in every opportunity that comes my way.

Please pray for me.

Also, because I wont have as much internet access as I have had, my blog will not be updated as regularly. However, the posts that may be put up will hopefully be an insight into what I am doing and what its like being a Relay Worker in Peru :O)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Christian starting Uni?

You are about to enter what is described as the "best years of your life". I can agree to this, yet there are many Christians that go to uni and fall away. Other things become a priority, the uni life of getting drunk, sex and even being under pressure to get that first class degree.

What we most praise we will prize. If your hearts praises the above things then God and church will slip from your life. Perhaps think about this before you start Uni or if you are starting another year at Uni and know that God wasn't at the center of all that you are doing. Are you going to praise and prize Jesus above everything? Is Jesus worth more then anything that Uni offers you? Are you prepared to be a missionary on campus - being light and salt to your hall mates and course mates?

I was thinking about ways that you may find helpful. Here are 10 things that may help you continue the race as a Christian on Campus.

1. Get stuck into Church. Try to choose a church quickly to avoid being stuck 6 months later with church hopping. The truth is that there isn't a perfect church, so you have two ways you can approach getting stuck into church and one of them will lead you to nowhere...
a) Find a church that serves you and feeds you.
b) Find a church that you can love and serve.
Church is so important, its your family and community, we are not individuals in Christ, we are a church. Think carefully about what the church teaches - if its not from the bible, I wouldn't bother going.

2. Get to know your hall mates. This is essential. Spend time with them, hang out with them and build relationships. You have a whole year with them and you may want to live with them next year. Share Jesus with them with being honest about what you do and how you live. It doesn't mean you have to go out getting drunk with them, but you can hang out with them and be a witness.

3. Get stuck into Christian Union. The Christian Union is a wonderful place to meet new Christians on campus, to be inspired and encouraged by older Christians and to be equipped for mission on campus. It is not so much as a social club, but a place to be encouraged and equipped to reach out to your non christian friends.
*Christian bubble ALERT* - be careful not to be warped into a Christian bubble. This is dangerous, you will spend all your time with Christians and christian music, books and theology. None of which are bad, but if that's all you do then you are in danger of never being able to reach your non christian friends because you are to wrapped up in the safety of your Christian bubble.

4. Join other societies. Don't just do CU events, the CU should be enabling you to join other societies so you can reach out to them with the Gospel. Therefore find something you are interested in and join the group and make friends! Keep going to their events.

5. Go to your classes. It is tempting to skip classes for several reasons - missions week, feeling tired, can't be bothered etc... they are not excuses! Its important to get to know your class mates and build relationships with them - you will be with them for 3/4 years, which gives you amazing opportunities! Plus you are here to do a degree, you can work for Jesus by being studious on your course.

6. Eat Well and Sleep. It is tempting for your first few months to survive off pizza, junk food and as little sleep as possible. University is exciting but you might die before you finish it with that lifestyle. Learn how to cook, get someone to teach you and eat lots of fruit and veg. Also get sleep - you will need it, esp the older you get!!

7. Invite friends to church or CU or Alpha. This may seem scary but in the first few weeks of Uni, anyone will go to anything because they want to try everything. So why not invited them to Church, CU or Alpha? Get them thinking and asking questions. They may be more open to Jesus than you think!

8. Make friends with internationals. You may have lots of international students on your course or in your halls. Why not invite them for dinner or sit next to them in class? Its scary being away from home and not having English as your first language. Just because they are "different" to you shouldn't be an excuse. Building friendships with them will be a wonderful way to share English culture and their culture.

9. Be accountable to/be mentored. I would recommend finding an older Christian that you can either be accountable to or be mentored. I was mentored as first year and I think without it I may of wondered away a bit. Its a great opportunity to ask lots of questions and study the bible. Perhaps there is a Relay worker or Staff worker to meet up with? I use to make Dave Bish meet up with me for coffee and I asked him loads of questions!! Its worth doing.

10. Read and Pray. When I say read, its good to read anyways, but I mean read the bible. Try to find a time in the day where you can read your bible and find out more about Jesus. It may be hard at first but it will be like honey to your soul. Learn to be disciplined in prayer, see that talking to the creator of the universe is a good thing and a wonderful gift that we can do. See God work in many ways in your life, seek Him and continue running the race.

I hope you find these helpful. Don't feel like you *have* to do these things out of duty, but enjoy Uni and the people you meet and the conversations you have. It will be scary and exciting and totally worth it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today I...

Today I am astounded by the truth of the Cross.

Today I am in awe that Jesus would die for me.

Can I tell someone this news when I am on the train or bus? Will my pride and self consciousness get in the way? If this is good news, why am I so reluctant to share it? Whats worse - the loss of pride now, or their eternity cut off from God.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A cart full of ART #5

I love reading. I love books. My favourite type of shopping is looking around bookstores. I like looking at the art on the book cover, the interesting titles and what stories lay hidden in its pages, waiting to be uncovered. I have many favourite books that range from, Lord of the Rings, CS Lewis, Discworld and Little women. But there is one book that remains my favourite and perhaps it may seem like a cliche, but I genuinely love it. It is of course the bible - the no.1 best selling book in the world. Why do I love it? Beause the Word of God is like a colourful explosion. It grips you, it tugs at your heart, it convicts you, it reveals to you a remarkable story with stories within stories to convey to man who the most wondereful creator of the universe is.

Before reading the bible, I didn't understand it. I thought it was a book full of rules. I would flick through its thin wispy paper and see ink letters after ink letters thinking they were irrelevant. But then I started reading it, starting to uncover the story held in its pages. This book contains 66 books and each one with a vibrant message. There are poems, songs, lists, letters, law and stories. This is no rule book. This breathes life and shows meaning. I love it so much because every time I open its pages I find something new, a gem that I missed earlier or a story that I didn't understand before. But what is most fantastic is that each page is telling me more about Jesus. We ask who is God?

Well Open the bible and see for yourself. Sometimes we may not like what we see, sometimes it will surprise us, sometimes it will make us cry. But the bible is fantastic - get your teeth stuck into it and enjoy the feast of life giving words!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A cart full of ART #4

"If music be the food of on!" I love music - all kinds of music from classical to rock. I think music is a wonderful aid to some types of worship. It is also a great expression to what we are feeling, in fact sometimes it can shape our emotions.

So, I am going to share with you some of my favorite albums, which you can find on Spotify!

Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid

There are some amazing tracks on this. Its very much chill out music, something you can sit down to and read a book or you can listen and appreciate the different sounds merging together.

Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

This album is fun, vibrant and a bit crazy! I like its upbeat tracks and fast paced songs. It is fun to listen to and the lyrics are interesting if you listen carefully!

Coldplay - Viva La Vida

This has to be the best Coldplay album. The variety on this is wonderful. The use of instruments and lyrics merge so brilliantly. I can't get enough of this album!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A cart full of ART #3

Recently an artist has caught my eye. He is Banksy and He is a graffiti artist, which is a bit controversial. But I like his art and they bring up a lot of topics about the culture we live in. His website is here.

Here is some of his art, which I like:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A cart full of ART #2

Right now in London there is an exhibition, which I am finding really interesting. I hope to go and see it for real when I am next in London. But you can view it online at One & Other.

What is it about? The blurb says:

This summer, sculptor Antony Gormley invites you to help create an astonishing living monument. He is asking the people of the UK to occupy the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals. They will become an image of themselves, and a representation of the whole of humanity.

Every hour, 24 hours a day, for 100 days without a break, a different person will make the Plinth their own. If you're selected, you can use your time on the plinth as you like. One & Other is open to anyone and everyone from any corner of the UK.

I find this really interesting! Some people just stand there or dance or paint or do yoga or jump up and down!! Is it art? I dunno, but I like it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

A cart full of ART #1

Poetry is wonderful. Its sometimes a great expression of joy and of pain. The bible is full of poetry - poetry that yearns, love poetry, praise poetry and anguish poetry! I enjoy poetry so much and I also enjoy writing poetry.

But Sylvia Plath is one of my favorite poets. A lot of tragedy surrounds her and her poetry isn't for some people. But I think her brilliant use of descriptive words get under your skin and paints a picture of vivid images in your imagination. Like any poetry it needs to be savored, it cannot be rushed or you will miss the meaning and the subtleties.

My favourite poem is Insomniac. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


The night is only a sort of carbon paper,
Blueblack, with the much-poked periods of stars
Letting in the light, peephole after peephole ---
A bonewhite light, like death, behind all things.
Under the eyes of the stars and the moon's rictus
He suffers his desert pillow, sleeplessness
Stretching its fine, irritating sand in all directions.

Over and over the old, granular movie
Exposes embarrassments--the mizzling days
Of childhood and adolescence, sticky with dreams,
Parental faces on tall stalks, alternately stern and tearful,
A garden of buggy rose that made him cry.
His forehead is bumpy as a sack of rocks.
Memories jostle each other for face-room like obsolete film stars.

He is immune to pills: red, purple, blue ---
How they lit the tedium of the protracted evening!
Those sugary planets whose influence won for him
A life baptized in no-life for a while,
And the sweet, drugged waking of a forgetful baby.
Now the pills are worn-out and silly, like classical gods.
Their poppy-sleepy colors do him no good.

His head is a little interior of grey mirrors.
Each gesture flees immediately down an alley
Of diminishing perspectives, and its significance
Drains like water out the hole at the far end.
He lives without privacy in a lidless room,
The bald slots of his eyes stiffened wide-open
On the incessant heat-lightning flicker of situations.

Nightlong, in the granite yard, invisible cats
Have been howling like women, or damaged instruments.
Already he can feel daylight, his white disease,
Creeping up with her hatful of trivial repetitions.
The city is a map of cheerful twitters now,
And everywhere people, eyes mica-silver and blank,
Are riding to work in rows, as if recently brainwashed.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A cart full of ART!

Lots of talk about art is surrounding me. I am not about to explore the question of what art is. You can delve into those depths over at "I thought it was a bench..." blog.

But I am going to share with you a cart full of Art that inspires me and makes me stop to consider. This week, I will share with you my favourite poems/poets, artists - music or drawing and random exhibitions of art. Hopefully it will be an interesting adventure.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Christianity ought to touch the whole of Life...

"I would say if Christianity is truth, it ought to touch on the whole life" - Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer is a bit of a hero of mine, I read his biography a while back and was captivated by his attitude to Christianity, apologetics and serving. To my great delight while in Oxford I met a man named Joe who knew and worked with Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland. I was quite excited to hear stories and hear his wisdom. It was truly remarkable!

But what Schaeffer is saying here is so true. He is sure that if Christianity is true then we cannot box it or put it into a category and leave it untouched. We are introduced with Schaeffer the reality of Christianity that penetrates his life - the kind that digs deep at our soul and gets under our skin. If Jesus is real, if we not only believe but follow and thus a disciple then it ought to touch our whole life. Not just part of it.

Can we perhaps see the ripples of Christ in our life already? You will find that you cannot hold light and darkness together, you cannot hold truth and lies together. You cannot hold Christ as Lord and you as Lord in the same hand. One must go. Either you live for yourself and walk on the path of death or you embrace Christ and lose yourself and find that you are given eternal life. If this is true - then should it not affect every spectrum, inch, moment, thought, action of your life and my life?

I have been thinking how this affects me everyday. Perhaps it should touch how I watch TV, movies or read books. How I talk to people or don't talk to people, how I love others, how I see the world, How I see death and life, church and friendship. How I see what is moral or what the world believes to be true. How I view white lies, how I view myself, how I judge others and how I show the love of Christ to others...

Christianity is not just for Sundays, but its for the Monday morning and the evening in the pub with workmates and the sitting in front of the TV and the walk to church and the listening to friends and the reading of the newspaper and sitting on the train and the love for people from different countries, religions and worldviews. Its for the days that have rain or humid heat, the time we spend eating or the time we spend daydreaming. Its when we read our bible or when we read science fiction, its when we listen to rock music or dance to the tango... "it ought to touch the whole of life".

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Why I love international outreach

I have just come back from Oxford, with its rain, bikes, beautiful buildings and a crazy two weeks that was packed with an amazing team, amazing students and an amazing Gospel. I can't describe how incredible these two weeks have been, but perhaps I can tell you why I love doing this...

1. The Gospel is true
You know what? The Gospel is true and that's amazing. If the Gospel wasn't true, I wouldn't be doing this. But it is true and we have amazing good news to share.

2. Reaching all Nations
Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. Well for two weeks, a lot of those nations came to us. It is wonderful seeing God open hearts, sharing Jesus with people that have never heard of him. Reach nations that are normally closed to us, but the treasure of the Gospel can be theirs.

3. Team Life
I love the team life, sharing Jesus with fellow Christians. I love how we all worked together with the Gospel centered and we all had a role to play and God used all of us.

4. Amazing Fellowship
I have met some amazing people. I have met people that have encouraged me greatly with their love for Jesus and willingness to surrender all for Him. It was fantastic having the opportunity to come along side some of the girls and chat and pray with them. The fellowship has been so key.

5. Meeting Interesting People
Over the two weeks I have met some very interesting people from all over the world - Japan, Colombia, Chile, France, Africa... its been so much fun getting to know them.

6. It is about Relationship
You can't shove the Gospel down their throats. Its about building relationships and sharing your time and your life with them. Its something that perhaps English people aren't always good at. But I enjoy this so much, its more personal and people are not projects.

I just love international outreach so much! Its been amazing being able to share the Gospel with people, to get to know different people from around the world and to meet Christians that have amazing testimonies and share the same vision and to have so much fun as well. There were many laughs!

If you get a chance to do this type of outreach, then do - it is an amazing opportunity!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oxford Outreach to all Nations

There wont be any blogging for the next two weeks as I am off to Oxford to reach International Students with the Gospel! I am very excited!!!

Please do pray for wisdom, open hearts to the Word of God, a chance to build relationships and for Al and I to lead our team well - looking out for them and showing them Jesus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The idols of our heart

Tim Keller says about idols:

"Our idols are those things we count on to give our lives meaning. They are the things of which we say, "I need this to make me happy" or "If I don't have this my life is worthless and meaningless"

Yet Jesus offers something much better. Who or what do you treasure in your heart?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Making much of who?

A question that caught my attention in my inbox from Desiring is John Piper asking:

"Do you feel more loved by God because he makes much of you, or because, at great cost to himself, he frees you to enjoy making much of him forever? "

This is a real heart cutting question. It is about pride and worth and where we find it. I tend to feel more loved when things are going well, when I am being praised, when I am doing something well. However since when does Gods love depend on what I do? Since when does feeling Gods love be more real then Gods actual love for me in Jesus, despite not feeling it?

Piper unpacks this question nicely:

The point of that question is to expose the deepest foundation of our happiness—whether it is ourselves or God.

  • Is the deepest basis of our joy God’s greatness or our greatness?
  • Am I more satisfied praising him or being praised?
  • Am I God-centered because of his surpassing value, or am I God-centered because he highlights my surpassing value?
  • Would it be heaven to me to see God or to be God?
What is our foundation of happiness? Is it ourselves? Our success, our relationships, our possessions or status or how we are feeling at this exact moment? Are we trying to be happy by looking at ourselves and trying to change ourselves or do we have Joy in Jesus?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Coffee and Adventures

A bit of blog spotting here.

On Marcus Honeysetts blog, he notes how having adventures in our christian life is important. It is easy for us to get comfortable and miss out on what we could be doing. He says:

The worst thing is to settle for having no adventures in the Christian life. That is the definition of faithless spiritual mediocrity. Do we somehow think that travelling with God to see new vistas, new things he is doing, new fields to reach for Jesus won't be wonderful? If our watchwords are "caution", "safety", "risk-free", "comfort" we will have a really boring spiritual life. At the end of our lives the tragedy will be that we realise that there were escarpments to climb that we never climbed, rivers to ford that we never crossed, panoramas to marvel at that we never glimpsed, adventures with God that we politely declined.

I agree with Marcus here. How boring and sad it would be to not have any adventures in our Christian life, to not have joy in Christ and to not stretch out of our comfort zones. He goes on to say that we need people in our life that stretch us and push us into adventures with God. I know a few of these people in my life, where by just being around them I know that no moment with them is dull because of their excitement with Jesus. It is inspiring.

Marcus goes on to say in an earlier post about church and comfort zones:

How many churches are comfort zones for people, that justify and validate us not living as Jesus lived, rather than discomfort zones that challenge and equip us to live as Jesus lived?
Once again, really challenging! We so easily lie in our nests and get comfortable. The Christian life is not meant to be comfortable, it certainly shouldn't be in church.

On a different note - Over at the Bluefish. We have Dave taking us through what good coffee is. I like this. I am tempted to throw all instant coffee out - you can't beat filter coffee. Possibly my favourite line:

Kenco promise that they use the same coffee beans for their instant and ground coffee products. That may be true enough, but that's more of an insult to the name of coffee than an enhancement of their instant brand. Instant coffee is to ground coffee what a McDonalds burger is to a steak. It makes a lot of difference.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Time to consider

Time is an interesting thing, it always feels to me that time speeds up at the best parts of life and then slows down during the waiting periods of life. 10 month of my life seemed to disappear into moments that consisted of challenges, struggles, laughter, epic lessons, study and life changing moments. Right now I have been given what seems a whole summer, two or three months to prepare for the next adventure. I look at this stretch now and know that it will go quickly, but if I stood on the other end of this stretch would I conclude that I made the most out of the time given to me? Would I see all the people I wanted to see, read all the books I wanted to read, watched the movies, taken Gospel opportunities, encouraged others, served in church and show my parents something of Jesus Christ.

One thing I must remember is that time is not my own, it is all Christs. Every day is His. Which really challenges me in how I will spend each day. Will it be idle or will it be full of activity that is exhausting? Will it be rooted in his word, feasting on it daily or will it be quick glances and then sliding into a Sunday Christian.

The last word from Bristol Staff Worker Jim, was a challenge about our bibles. Will they be left on the bedside table or will they be open and regularly read? Its not about legalism or works or guilt. Its about knowing Jesus.

This summer has been given to me as a gift and I want to use it well. A time to rest and to sharpen my mind and to get to know Jesus. It is exciting! Any suggestions on what I can do are welcome...

How are you going to spend your summer?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How to find God

On Channel 4 on Sunday there was a programme on called "How to find God", you can catch it on 4OD. Its a show that records the lives and events of some agnostics who go to Alpha. We are taken on a journey to see how they respond to Alpha, the questions they have and their response at the end.

Some bits I wasn't sure about. I am not too convinced whether its right to get non Christians to try to speak in tongues. I also wasn't sure whether the narrator was being sarcastic and trying to expose Alpha as a ploy to brainwash people. But what it did show was real people coming from very real and diverse backgrounds that have real questions. The one thing I love about Alpha and Christianity explored is that it is for everyone and anyone can come with any questions they like.

I have seen Christianity Explored work in Exeter. A good meal and a Gospel message is key. Bringing friends along is essential and being honest and real is important. This year through Christianity Explored I have seen a number of people come to know Jesus and want to give up their lives to follow him. These weren't people brought up as Christians nor were they brainwashed. Instead they were shown who Jesus is through the Gospels, they were shown the evidence, their questions were answered as much as possible and then they made up their minds. They weighed up the evidence. Nothing spooky happened. Real people seeing the truth of who Jesus is and making a response. It isn't something to sit on the fence about.

Alpha and Christianity explored does work, not as a magic formula, but because the Gospel is true and when you present who Jesus really is through the Gospel then lives will be changed, which can be seen on the programme. But for some it doesnt work and they walk away not wanting to know more - its sad, but their hearts are veiled to the truth and we can continue to pray for them and continue to show them Jesus but it is God that removes that veil. It doesnt mean we say that those events don't work, because our trust isn't in them but in God. It means that we keep striving, keep bringing friends along and keep showing them Jesus.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I thought it was a bench...

The first of July is here.
Relay has ended.

It can only mean one thing!

Lets talk about.... ART!

I have embarked on a new project with fellow ex-relay workers. It is called - "I thought it was a bench" here is the blurb for it:

Have you ever been to an art gallery and sat an a piece of art, mistaking it for a bench? Or have you spend a long time examining the bench as if it were the main exhibit, only to see someone come and sit on it and look at the painting behind you? And then you see loads of similar benches around the room.

Maybe you've not been in those particular situations - but if you're anything like me, you've been to art galleries and felt out of place and a bit of an ignoramus.

Maybe you don't care - just so long as you know what you like... But why?

Today sees the launch of this exciting new project called "I thought it was a bench..." Welcome.

It's going to be a fascinating journey of discovery as we learn more and more about art and truth.

Please continue to check the website out as the plan unfolds about what we are doing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Captured in the lens

I stumbled across a really great photographer that takes pictures and then changes them to make quite distorted/arty pictures. I really like them, they are imaginative and eye catching. Showing reality in a different perspective. His name is Erik Johansson. check out his website here :: alltelleringet

Here are s
ome photo's that I enjoyed:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christless Grace-less attempts

“No one can truly change who does not know and rely on gifts from the hand of the Lord. Since Christ is both Giver and Gift, attempts to change without grace are barren of the very purpose, power, and Person that change is about. Self-manufactured change does not dislodge almighty me from the center of my tiny self-manufactured universe. Still in the futility of my mind and the hardness of my heart, I only act a bit different.

Successful living without grace describes mere self-reformation: get your act together, save your marriage, get off your duff and get a job. Failure in living describes failed self-efforts: when you can’t get a grip, you despair. Christless, grace-less attempts at change conclude either with the praise of your own glory or with your shame.”

- David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The church is not about me.

I approach 1 Cor 14:1-40 with caution. I see the tag lines, foot notes and debates of gifts - tongues, prophecy, healing all jumbled up with words like Cessasionist, Charismatic and Continuationist. The three Cs. But what about the big resounding PL?
Polystyrene? No.

Pursue Love.

Right there in verse 1 of chapter 14 is a wonderful command. Pursue Love. Yet how easy do we skip this part and jump on the wagon of gift bashing? Pursuing Love is the very context in which we are to desire gifts and build up the church. You can't do without it.

Yet how often do we approach church, the body of Christ with the wrong attitude? We ask ourselves how can church serve me. How can I use my gifts? And then when we can't or aren't given that opportunity we begin to feel dissatisfied. We start to feel like we don't fit in.

We go into church thinking that this is a place to receive, sit back and soak in and then grumble when things don't hit the spot of our consumer satisfaction.

But church is not about me. Its not about how I can be served or what I get out of the sermon or what I get out of the worship or how I fit in. It's not even how I am going to use my gifts, because there is a chance that at times we can't and we kick up a fuss. We make the gifts about us rather then Jesus. We love the idea of serving in a church when we have our names on a rota. It feels like that is better service then sitting and talking to an older person, or talking to an international student and inviting them to dinner or encouraging the preacher. They don't put them on rotas do they? It says a lot about our hearts and our desire for praise. Its all pride.

Plus, church is more then just Sunday. Its everyday of the week. Which is why we need to pursue love. To have our minds renewed about encouraging and serving the Body of the Christ. Church is not about you and your needs, stop thinking that it is, but be ready to encourage those around you, be ready to love and to serve in ways that won't get you on a rota or praise from the front.

The point of pursuing love isn't to sit back, but to Pursue. It means it will be hard, there will be set backs. But our identity is in Jesus, meaning we keep pursuing, keep loving, keep serving and keep giving.

Think of this. If everyone in church had the attitude of serving others rather then taking, then we will be serving each other in unity of the Gospel. Everyone would fit in. Everyone would be encouraged. As a body we will be reflecting Jesus Christ. Amazing.

*Ideas taken from Relay 3*

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Schaeffer on prayer and active passivity

Francis Schaeffer is an amazing man, who thinks deeply and asks many questions. I am currently half way through reading about his life story and I stumbled across a quote that really struck me:

If I woke up tomorrow morning and found that all that the Bible teaches concerning prayer and the Holy Spirit were removed (not as a liberal would remove it, by misinterpretation, but really removed) what difference would it make in practice from the way we are functioning today? The simple tragic fact is that in much of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ–the evangelical church–there would be no difference whatsoever. We function as though the supernatural were not there. -

Francis A. Schaeffer (True Spirituality).

Shaeffer makes the point that we rely on "human talent, energy and clever ideas".

How much of this would make a difference to your life? If tomorrow, God took away prayer and the Holy Spirit, would there be much difference in your life tomorrow as today? How much do we rely on ourselves rather then Jesus? Its difficult when we get our daily bread from Tescos and our temptations are in forms of chocolate ice cream.

Schaeffer says we need to approach situations with "active passivity". There is no excuse to not work for the Lord with all your strength and ability - it should be a joy. There is no room for idleness - so we are active and yet we are passive because we should be doing everything through Jesus, relying on Him, praising Him and realising that He does the work and we cant do anything without Him.

Maybe we need to step back and think with Shaeffer. Would tomorrow be different too today if God took away prayer and the Holy Spirit? Whom do I really rely on every day for everything - little or huge?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Being thankful....

We are called to pray, to continue praying and being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

Giving thanks is so important. We have a lot to be thankful for. I know I certainly do. The blessings that God gives me is astounding, especially when hard times come. I wanted to use this post to give thanks to God, to be reminded of all the things he provides out of His Grace...

1. Praise God that Jesus is in control of everything. I was reading Hebrews 2:5-9 this morning and noting down everything about Jesus. Nothing is outside of his control. Nothing. Everything has been subjected to Him. Which includes today, right now, tomorrow, next year in a different country and the dreams and ideas of the years after. Everything is in His control - its not in my control, which is a blessing because it would be a mess!

2. Praise God for good food and fellowship with the Bish's last night. I have known them since I was a very young christian and its been amazing to serve alongside them in UCCF and church. There wisdom and insight has been very valuable to me and their baby boy Zach is gorgeous!

3. Friendships this year have been amazing and a blessings. I love honesty in friendships, rebuke and lots of laughter. You have to laugh. Those friendships are rare to find and yet I have found myself with a few good friends like that and it is a joy to encourage each other in Christ and to show love to each other.

4. Praise God for Words. Words are amazing. Some words sound great and give birth to beautiful poetry and stories. Words are razor sharp and rhythmic. They can engage imagination and I love writing.

5. Praise God for music. I love music. I love tunes, instruments and how we can use that to Glorify God.

God is good. I am glad He gives us things to enjoy and to glorify Him with.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What worship has become

Michael Spenser, over at internetmonk has written a challenging post on what worship has become. A snapshot of this is below. Read fully here:

"Worship has now become a musical term. Praise and worship means music. Let’s worship means the band will play. We need to give more time to worship doesn’t mean silent prayer or public scripture reading or any kind of participatory liturgy. It means music.

We have a lot of happy people right now. They have no idea what Biblical worship is outside of the context of their favorite songs played by a kickin’ band. They have little idea of worship in vocation, in family, in ordinary work or in silence. They credit their favorite songs as major spiritual events."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Church that shows Jesus

In 1 Cor 12:12-31, we find ourselves being compared to as members that make up one body. As we scan the church we can see people that are very good at different things, they have different gifts and so do we. But there are two ways that we tend to react to other people -
1.Wishing to be like others - wanting their gifts and abilities
2. Or looking down on others - thinking our gifts are a lot better.

Both of these types of thinking could lead us believing that we don't need the church, that in fact it would be better off if it was just "me and Jesus" and then there wouldn't be any problems because I can use my gifts when and how I like without feeling inferior and without putting up with other people who are weaker then me.

Yet Paul makes the assertion that for the body of Christ to function, we can't go around saying to others that we don't need them or we can't say to ourselves that we don't want to be apart of the body. We are one in Christ therefore we need to behave like it. We cannot be a giant eye rolling around - it would be useless, but when the eye is attached to the body then its purpose is clear.

Lets take feeling inferior in church. It would be very easy for us to say that "I don't belong here, because I am not like them" I have heard that alot and have heard myself say it too. The problem is, is that our sinful nature says - "I will go somewhere where people are like me, so I can feel good about myself"

Feeling inferior is also a sense of pride because our focus is on ourselves and how things are not going our way. Yet God designed us all to be different to achieve different purposes together. No matter how you feel, you are apart of the body of Christ. So you have a choice, you can sit and grumble and complain that no one is like you. Or you can embrace diversity and serve your brothers and sisters in your church.

The Superior - Or maybe you think that your gifts and abilities are amazing and you don't have time for weaker people. Your head is so full of dreams and passions that you believe that the weaker people will slow you down. Who are the weak? Perhaps those that are old, traditional, theology not up to your standard, different styles of evangelism.

But although you think you are great, you have forgotten the Gospel. Verses 25-26 say:

"that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together"

The way we respond to the weak is significant. We are not lone rangers, we are a community. If one member suffers, we all suffer. Therefore there is no room for pride because God chooses the weak to shame the strong. And if the church is to show Jesus Christ and Jesus was all about the strong people helping the weak - then not everyone can be strong.

Gifts are not a source of pride of inadequacy in the church. Gifts are a way to model that we are all one body and from that as a church we can show Jesus.

*These were notes taken at Relay 3*

Monday, June 08, 2009

Relay 3

Last week I was at Relay 3. It was a mixture of many things, but overall I loved it and will miss Relay a lot. I just want to share some highlights with you:

  • Amazing Friendships. Amazing people. An Amazing God.
  • Prayer Cell fun and sweets
  • Learning Ceroc dancing
  • Big Bonfire outside and roasting marshmallows, singing praises to God.
  • Helen Taylors Testimony
  • Many tears. Many Laughs
  • Strange food mixtures
  • Presentations - funny, sad, strange and a reminder of how wonderful God is.
  • Church is not about me.
  • Pursue Love
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Fellowship group and escaping to the pub!
  • Eds poetry
  • Banter with Jen and her non funny jokes
  • Being prayed for about homestart
  • 16 people doing Homestart. 13 in Europe. 2 in Latin America. 1 in China
  • South West Team!
  • Chunk It!!!
  • The best and hardest year ever...
  • BUT God is still God and Grace is still true.

Strong in thy Strength, Safe in Thy Keeping tender. We rest on thee and in thy name we go...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Creative minds through the lens

As I was saying on another blog post, Christians and creativity go together and they should go together. We do indeed serve a God who is very creative and created all that is around us. Therefore in His image we too can be creative as a way of worshiping our creator. Amazing.

So, I want to direct your attention to a creative person who does her creativity through photographs. Her name is Becca and I went to Uni with this lovely lady, who has always encouraged me and made me smile. I love her photography and I have seen it grow so much over the last couple of years and I want to share some of it with you, so that you can praise the creator God just as she does through capturing His world through a lens...

Check out more of her stuff at her Flicker page.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet? Pt2

Check out the otherside of the argument. What do you think?

Go here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The best shrub

I thought that this was most inspiring by Martin Luther King Jr:

"If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can't be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be be the best little shrub on the side of the hill."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jesus the Carpenter

What do you think is the most Holy work that you can do? What is the most pleasing work you can do for God? Perhaps we think being a minister is the most Holiest work you can do, or being a Staff worker for UCCF or being a missionary in Africa. In our minds we have statuses of work when someone, particularly a Christian, says what they do for a job. When people say that they are a full time mum, a factory worker, a dustbin man, a student etc. We don't tend to respond very well. But when someone says that they are a missionary in Africa or a minister, our response may well be "wow, that's amazing".

Perhaps our theology of work is wrong. So I am reminded by what Jesus did for 30 years before starting his 3 years ministry. Jesus was a carpenter for 30 years. That's hard manual labor, working with wood, splinters, hammers, sweat, being creative with wood. That doesn't sound much like "Holy Work". Where was the dog collar? Where was the pulpit or coffee shop with the bible open?

How amazing is it that the creator of the universe spent 30 years of his human life on earth working like we do in what we would describe as a mundane job. It is amazing and makes me think that its an honour to work for God in what seems the most unremarkable job.

Therefore let us not see any work as more Holy then the other, because in fact its more about your heart attitude to your work. Will you turn up to work today and be Jesus to those around you? Will you rejoice in Jesus when you are at your desk punching in numbers, when you are looking after your children, when you are emptying dustbins or when your opening a bible with your student.

In Genesis 1, God makes it clear that we were made to work. It wasn't something that appeared after the fall. Do you think when we get to heaven we will sit on clouds all day eating Philadelphia? I don't think we will, we were designed to work just as Jesus was. But we will work with joy and delight and we can put that into practice now by praying for a change of heart and making a choice of bringing your faith and Jesus to work with you. Whether that's an essay you are writing or teaching a class. It is all work and we are told to do it all for the Glory of God - Colossians 3:23-24. We are serving the Lord Jesus Christ!

William Tyndale (the guy who translated the NT into the English Language) said:

"There is no better work than to please God. To pour water, to wash dishes, to be a cobbler or an apostle is all one. To wash dishes or to preach is all as one as touching the deed to please God."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The strange world of the scriptures

As Ian Stackhouse said:

The scripture are strange. It is a Topsy Turvey world...

We ask - "How do we live?"

Bible says - "You die"

We ask - "How do I become great?"

Bible says - "You become little"

We ask - "How do I aspire to Leadership?"

Bible says - "You become a servant"

We ask - "How do I become rich?"

Bible says - "By giving everything you have away"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reflections on Not Praying

Some days I pray. But most days they are fleeting prayers. Have you ever had those days? Where eather you find yourself not having time to pray and its a quick Hi, I would like this, Amen. Or there isn't even time for prayer, you have so much to do, so much on the agenda and list - when can you ever fit prayer in?

A really good book that a friend lent to me was, "Too Busy Not to Pray" - Bill Hybels. This was such a challenge to read as I ticked off all the reasons why I didnt want to pray. It brings us back to what the bible says about who God is, who you are praying to and what He can do and why it is good to pray.

But I know when I search my heart I can see the reasons why I don't pray, which are:

  1. I am proud. I believe I don't need to come to God. I am in control and there is nothing God can do for me right now.
  2. I don't have faith. I don't believe God can act or that He is listening.
  3. I don't really know who God is. I don't know his character, his promises, his truth. If I did then it would be a delight to pray to Him.
It is very easy to go through your day and not think of God. It is easy to think that I don't need to pray to him and ask him to help me in this conversation, in meeting this person, when I am shopping, When I am cooking dinner, when I am doing a bible study. I have all that under control.

If you are a bit like me and think that praying is eather nonexistent, boring or a quick Hi, Bye. Then maybe we need to stop and consider why that is? What is the condition of our heart? Who exactly are we praying to? Is it Father Christmas or the Creator God who is all powerful and very faithful? Are we praying from the heart, pouring our all to God, repenting and willing to receive discipline as well as great Mercies?

Perhaps we need to get into perspective our lives and who we are living for. Maybe we need to get on our knees and say sorry for our proud, faithless hearts and ask God for Mercy and to show us who He really is.

Read this book. It will change how you think and remind you of why you should pray.

Friday, May 22, 2009

To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

A fellow Relay Worker - Gethin Jones is blogging on whether Christians should Tweet or not. It is an interesting read and challenging too.

Have a read here.