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...