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.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I know nothing of love and faith...

In my arrogance I can stand and say, I know much of love and much of faith because I have read about it. I have passed my finger along the inky sentences and smudged the words together. I try to convince myself that I know and have experienced the depths of these things, but I would be lying. As I watched the preacher stand up this Sunday, frail and shaky, but yet full of joy and gentleness I realised in my youth and in my inexperience I know not much of love and faith.

What I love about being in a church, surrounded by many age ranges, is that it strikes humility into your heart. There are many people of the older generation that have much wisdom, have loved deeply and lost and yet have rock hard faith that clings to their personal savior and friend, Jesus. I think perhaps this type of love and faith and gentle wisdom, must come from great trials, situations, testings and walking with Christ daily, being filled by the Holy Spirit and reading his word.

I once knew a man who came to speak at Surrey CU when I was a student. He was a missionary and he was so full of Joy. He would tell loads of stories that would inspire us, make us laugh and cry. He told us a story of how his daughter fell into the hands of men who killed her. He said this with such peace and real acknowledgment of Gods Grace. I found out recently that he has cancer and I expect that He is still full of Joy with the love of Christ. Here is a man who knows much about the depths of Love and Faith.

I think I am just really reminded of how young I am and how actually I don't know much of anything. Paul says to "flee youthful passions" in 2 Tim 2:22, perhaps in a way he means youthful arrogance, pride, quick to judge, quick to lose faith, quick to give up on love and not show Grace. I think I will only truly understand the depths of Love and Faith when I meet trials, heartache, lose, persecution and still say that Christ is ever faithful, ever true and my greatest love.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reflecting on Identity

Just today the topic of identity came up with a good friend of mine. Firstly I love the fact that I have christian sisters who point me to Jesus and remind me that when things go wrong my identity is in Christ and equally when things go right my identity is still in Christ. She is good at pointing me in the right direction. But it made me think about how we see ourselves and what our identity is rooted in.

Identity is the key question in our culture today. Just switch on the TV and you will see hundreds of adverts that tell you who you could be or should be. You could be beautiful, you could be happy with this product, holiday or DFS Sofa. It is all about you and your needs and your identity is wrapped up in what you buy, wear, listen to and watch. Then opinions of appreciation and admiration will bubble up and make you feel good and your identity well established.

Welcome to the world where we can buy heaven online. Where the effect is more devastating then plummeting into recession, in fact it causes a ripple of insecurity and lost identity. Soon those things will become boring and the want, nay, need for more swallows you until you buy the next material thing.

Is that what makes you who you really are? Perhaps if we search ourselves a little more we may find that this need of having more stuff or need to feel appreciated by others is just an outworking of a heart issue. Yet as Christians we are told that our identity is in Christ and we need to more then ever cling to that. What does that look like in practice?

Galatians 2:20 is key. Right there is the heart of christian identity and living. Paul says we need to die. We need to die to our self by being crucified with Christ to find that we no longer live. This is counter cultural. The world is saying we need to find our identity and Paul is saying you need to lose it, to die to yourself and then Christ will live in you. Your identity is no longer in yourself, but in Christ. How does that happen? Well the second half of the verse explains, "the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God". Christian you should no longer be consumed with yourself, it is no longer about you and your needs because you live for something more and your faith is in the Son of God. Why? because "he loved me and gave himself up for me".

The more we look for identity in those around us or inside of us, the more we will be frustrated and lost. Paul is telling us to die to ourselves, it is no longer your life but Christs, he determines what you do and He is your identity and we have such fulfillment and assurance in Him because He loves us and gave himself up for us. He loves you and gave himself up for you. Therefore, your worth is from Him, your accepted by Him and you are deeply loved. How satisfying and complete to know that you no longer have to search and strive for identity and assurance because the Creator, Eternal God of the Universe gives you the greatest identity in Christ. But you have to turn away from yourself and start to live by faith in the Son of God.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Christianity and Creativity...

After being in Falmouth for their mission week, it has made me think a lot about art, music, poetry and all things creative. How can we merge the creative arts to bring God Glory without having to think we need to include rainbows and fluffy lollipops and the line that "life is great" fabrication? Sometimes we can paint or write about the reality of this world and the sin in it and yet convey that God is good and faithful. So I may be posting up some more creative things, starting with a poem I stumbled across by Steve Turner, its good:

Lord, Lord

You were hungry
and I was sorry.
You were thirsty
and I blamed the world.
You were a stranger
and I pointed you out.
You were naked
and I turned you in.
You were sick
and I said a prayer.
You were in prison
and I wrote a poem.

The God Letters

The Lord God says:
‘Share your bread
with the hungry,
bring the homeless poor
into your house,
cover the naked.’

Dear Lord God,
We have got
new carpets,
so this will
not be possible.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The beauty of Creation in Dawlish

Today I had a day off, so decided to take a trip to Dawlish with my camera. I took some shots of the beach and awesome waves. Before I headed out I read Psalm 94 and was reminded of how God is to be greatly praised and that He created all of this... I hope you enjoy them. I am so blessed that God sent me to this part of the country!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Let all the Earth Praise Him...

During sung worship today at church a thought struck me as we sang...

"Praise Him the sun, moon and bright shining stars,
Praise Him you heavens and waters and skies"

If we open our bibles to the Psalms, we will find similar words in Psalm 148. The Psalmist is commanding all created things to Praise the Lord. To Praise His name because He created all things and is worthy to be praised.

I asked God a question: How can trees, shining stars, waters, skies etc praise God? Can they sing to God or pray to Him and Praise Him with their voice? This may be a simple thought, but God showed me that actually all of these created things Praise God by simply doing what they were created to do. A tree praises God by being a tree and the star praises God by being a star. They do what they are meant to do and meant to be.

How does that effect me or us? We Praise God by being what we were created to be, which is by being in relationship with God, glorifying Him in everything we do. We Praise God by being fully human which can only happen through Jesus Christ. Its amazing to think that actually by being what God created me to be - fully human, in relationship with God through Jesus and enjoying the things He created, actually all of this Praises Him. And when I look at creation, although there is sin and death, there is also life and the mountains, trees, sea etc all Praise God by doing what they were created to do - Just being what they are.

Therefore when I sin, I am not doing what I was created to do. I am no longer praising God but instead I am praising myself or an idol. I know that I feel more alive when I am praising God, when I am doing what I was created to be - Enjoying Jesus, Enjoying the Creation and Giving thanks to God for all good things. Being fully human and Praising God means being in Relationship with God.

Amazing. Read Psalm 148.