Monday, April 27, 2009

Praying like Ezra

Ezra 9 is an awe inspiring prayer. We are struck by his compassion, his humility, his raw exposure. Ezra cries out for the nation and their rebellion before God. Ezra sinks to his knees in verse 5 and lifts up his hands just after he has torn his garment and plucked his beard! Then he pours out his heart.

He says "I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, O God".
Do you ever think that sometimes your sin isn't actually that bad and God is more like a mate then a Holy God? Do we ever sink to our knees and blush in the presence of God because we know that our hearts are corrupt?

I find our attitude to prayer is sometimes off target. We forget that we are in the presence of a Holy God. But Ezra makes a point of uncovering the nations sin. Its not just about Him, but about Israel and how God saved Israel and showed favor and Grace towards them, yet they turn from Him and corrupt themselves with idols.

You can hear the cry in Ezra's heart. There is such love and passion there. My prayers are generally a quick thank you, please give me this, oh and im sorry... ! Flippantly I know that Jesus will forgive me, because that's what God is all about right?

Yet Ezra lays his whole self out to God and repents, seeking God for Grace and Mercy, yet knows full well that he doesn't deserve it. He seeks repentance for the whole of Israel and reminds God of His truth and faithfulness.

I praise God that He is very patient towards me and my half hearted prayers. My heart needs to be reminded that I don't deserve forgiveness, but God does forgive me because of His Grace. I want my prayers to be like Ezra, an outpouring of compassion, love, repentance and seeking Gods heart. I am reminded that we stand before a Holy God and there is nothing more we can do then fall to our knees and lift up our hands for v15 says, "none can stand before you because of this". But by the blood of Christ we are forgiven, but that doesn't mean we don't stand there trembling or being flippant. Pray like Ezra.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Treasure the Word

The Word of God is a treasure. Its a delight to read and get to grips with. Yet at times it can be an academic exercise. It can become a source of gaining knowledge, gaining understanding and not seeing Jesus in the text.

I was recently reading a book by a missionary where she plucked out of her memory verses of scripture that helped her focus on truth and on Jesus. It left me really thinking about this. This may get our minds twitching at this point because taking verses out of context is generally a no. Yet there is some great comfort and delight in having verses at the forefront of your mind that you can recall and can speak truth into what ever situation you are in.

The Word of God is more then an academic exercise. Its the living breathing word of God. There are great truths in the bible that we can treasure in our hearts, there are psalms that we can bring to mind and gemstones of verses written by Paul. Context is of course really important, im not saying its not. But I think its important not to treat the bible as an academic exercise but instead to treasure the word in your heart. Memorize scripture and see the Holy Spirit work in your life and you may find he brings to light verses that have been in your memory or that you have read recently that will aid you. rebuke you or remind you of glorious truth.

Treasure the Word of God in your heart.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Writing the last part of the Exeter Chapter...

Here I am sitting on a train that rumbles on its tracks and the scenery outside the giant windows begin to merge and smudge as the train gains speed and momentum. I have a deep feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am infact speeding towards this final part of the Exeter chapter. This is the last term in Exeter, with its Boston Tea Party, Sandy beech, 200 people ECU and studying Gods word with various Exeter Ladies that will hopefully one day be great leaders of Christ whether thats through being a housewife or a missionary in a foreign country.

What I love about my job is how God has shaped and changed attitudes. How He has indeed surprised me in every way. It has been a privilege to serve God in the South West, to be apart of a team of people that are committed to bring the Good News of Jesus onto campus. I love the fact that we get to plant seeds and by the Grace of God they may flourish and grow! I pray that all the students at Exeter who know Christ will fling their lives away for Christ and that perhaps this year they may have seen the Glory of Jesus and that they love him more which will be reflected in every part of their lives.

There is much to do for this last term. New ways to be stretched and ways to be dependant on Christ. I pray that my love for Christ will grow, that may passion will blossom and that I will be changed. I pray that I will see more of God, know Him more and see more people come to Christ. Also that my pride and selfishness will be stripped away and I will be a humble servant of Christ. Waiting and Ready to go where ever he sends me.

This last part of the chapter will be exciting. I hope I make the most of every opportunity. Please pray that I do. Thank you.

Now lets start this last section with a cup of coffee! YUM!

Friday, April 17, 2009

9 questions to engage a film with

Engaging with film is a seminar by Andrew Fellows, which you can find on the bethinking website.

Andrew Fellows explores how Christians can engage with film and the culture that we are in. I am just going to outline Nine questions that we should ask to uncover the films worldview. This is a good framework to have when watching anything and hopefully this will change the way we watch, read or listen to any forms of media.

How does the story reflect what it means to be human? - the glorification or the depravity of humanity? Evil and goodness?

What kind of universe exists? - Is it naturalist? Is it legoland? Is it super-naturalist (The Matrix etc)..

How does the story reflect history? - Is it tragic? Do our choices determine the outcome?

How is evil portrayed in the story? - Are we entertained by the evil in the film? Does it take evil seriously?

Does existence have meaning? - Do we have to create the meaning or is it bestowed upon us?

How does the story deal with the issue of justice? - We long for justice, does the story reflect this longing?

How does the story reflect relationships? - Does it show that we are relational people? What happens when its perverted?

How is redemption reflected in the story? - Who needs saving? Who is the Messiah?

Does the story have hope when it looks to the future? - is there a future we can look forward to?

These are all deeply embedded in the christian worldview. We need to learn to evaluate film from this perspective.

I hope you have found this helpful!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Polish Snapshot

My trip to Poland in some pictures:

Monday, April 13, 2009

BE-Engaging :: Chocolate and Sin

The film Chocolat starring Johnny Depp as well as Judi Dench, is set in a French village, where the storyteller reminds us that this is a season of lent and "If you lived in this village, you understood what was expected of you. You knew your place in the scheme of things. And if you happened to forget, someone would help remind you"

Now what images come to mind when I say the word - "Chocolate?" Is it - Sweet drops of sugar goodness that delicately melt on your tongue or a sinful intake of gluttony that will send you straight to hell? The portrayal of this film would suggest that the latter is true, that chocolate is a sin. I appreciate that it is the time of lent where abstinence is endorsed. However the image of chocolate being a sin is interesting. It takes the christian word "sin" and says that all good things are sinful because we enjoy them. Is that not what the world thinks sin is?

From this attitude then, The world thinks that Christians believe that all these things are sin:
Music(esp rock!)
Chocolate and Sweets
Having fun of any kind

Well! Lets uncover the good news then. The world has it wrong. None of them are sins because God created all of them. (Phew!) Sure some are in context (such as sex within marriage between a man and woman), but the word sin doesn't mean God hates all the things of this world that we enjoy. Sin is rejecting God and disobeying Him.

As my dad(non Christian) said when watching this film... "How is chocolate a sin?!".... my reply was... "Its not!"...

This is a great film to uncover what sin really is. You can explore this theme with your friends and show them what sin is and why God hates sin. Remember what Jesus said about sin and material things in Mark 7?

There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” (Mark 7:15)

What is the state of our heart right now? Is it about what we eat or drink, or is it about our heart and our relationship with God?

These are great questions to ask. Why not grab a few of your friends, buy lots of chocolate and hot chocolate and sit and watch this film. Then bring up the question of what they think sin is and what the bible says sin is...! I think you will find it interesting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He has Risen!

"Christians must keep their nerve: the Resurrection isn’t a metaphor, it’s a physical fact" - Tom Wright

In the Time newspaper online, Tom Wright Bishop of Durham, wrote an article on the resurrection which I thought was brilliant.

Check it out here.

The world wants to hush up the real meaning of Easter. Death is the final weapon of the tyrant or, for that matter, the anarchist, and resurrection indicates that this weapon doesn't have the last word. When the Church begins to work with Easter energy on the twin tasks of justice and beauty, we may find that it can face down the sneers of sceptics, and speak once more of Jesus in a way that will be heard."

Jesus is alive!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I am 5 years old today...

Today, the 11th April. I became a Christian 5 years ago in 2004. Today 5 years ago I gave my life to Jesus after hearing the Gospel for the first time a few weeks before.

It was actually easter Sunday when I became a Christian. It was the best day ever and I have not regretted it since. Praise Jesus for dying for me, taking on the punishment for my sin, for bringing me into relationship with God and the body of Christ.... wooooo!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Today is Friday

As I look at the news, the TV programmes and the internet nothing much is said about Jesus. He brought Great News, yet no one wants to hear it. We need to hear it though, we need to come and repent, we need to grasp hold of the Good News and rejoice.

Today marks the day my savour died for me. Today the sky turned black. But soon there will be hope. Sunday is coming!

It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.

Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said,
Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! And having said this he breathed his last.

Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “
Certainly this man was innocent!

And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts.
And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things."

Luke 23:44-49

Friday, April 03, 2009

Off to Poland!

I won't be around for a week as I am off to Poland to help with a Christian Union Mission. I am not sure what it involves - but please do pray for us! I fly out on Saturday and return next Thursday :O)!

Thank you!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Be-Engaging - "If I were a boy"

"If I were a boy" - by Beyonce. I found these lyrics really interesting because they paint a picture of what it means to be a man and a woman. I think society has a gender complex - women want to be men and men are confused with what they want to be!

Beyonce says that:

If I were a boy
I think I could understand
How it feels to love a girl
I swear I'd be a better man

I can't help but get this feeling that she is proclaiming that if a woman had the role of a man - she would be much better at it. At points of frustration I am sure that this can sometimes feel true. You go through your head of all the ways you would act if you were a guy and how you would be more sensative, attentive and loving.

She then goes on to say:

I'd put myself first
And make the rules as I go
'Cause I know that she'd be faithful
Waiting for me to come home, to come home

I am not sure whether she is alluding to the idea that men are selfish? It is interesting though, there is a theme of believing that men are the selfish, tyrant, domineering, controlling people. Women of course come out shiny clean with perfection stamped on their foreheads. Perhaps the reason why women want to be men is because they think they can do a better job. However where does that leave the men? This song is an interesting reflection of where society is and how far it is from Gods purpose for man and woman.

I love the fact that God has made man and woman different and that women were never meant to be men and men were not meant to be women. We both have different roles which scream against society right now. Yet trailing back to Genesis 1 and 2 before the fall, we see man as the leader and head while the woman is the helper and yet this is far from domineering and controlling attitudes, but much closer to a loving relationship that submits, loves and respects. Then sin enters and everything is undone and backwards...

Lets fast forward to the Cross where Jesus restored relationships, where He dies for our sins and brings us back into relationship with the Father. How is that reflected in our relationships now? Well.. Ephesians 5 says that women should submit to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the church. What did Christ do for the church? He died for her... that has amazing implications. In Jesus we have a renewed relationship with each other, men in their rightful roles as leaders, protectors and servants and wives as helpers, submitting, loving and servants. Both serving and loving each other. Wow....

It is good for us as Christians to challenge the role of men and women. What society paints isnt satisfying, it isn't what God designed at all. We can look at this song and unwrap it to its core and find a longing for more then just women wanting to be men. There is a longing for men to take the role they are meant to and yet women sometimes take that away for them or men advocate their responsibility leaving no choice but for someone else to take over the role. Lets not do the blaim game, but lets point back to the Gospel and see how God designed the roles of man and woman.