Thursday, June 16, 2011

My blog has moved!

Dear readers,

Thank you so much for reading this blog and commenting and adding your ideas. I have really enjoyed writing on this blog and using blogger. However I feel its the right time to move and have a fresh start, so I will no longer be using this blog to write on but will be moving over to Wordpress. I hope that doesnt stop you from reading my blog and that you will be able to update your blogroll or rss to my new blog. :)

Why not grab a coffee and join me at my new blog where I will explain why I have moved!

Here is my new address: http://gospelsunshine.wordpress.com/

Thanks very much :)
Cat xxx

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Returning to blogging

Apologies for not blogging in ages - we have had no Internet and thus had to resort to pen and paper for communication. It was traumatic, we nearly sold our car to get a horse and cart! 

Anyways, I thought I would do a quick update of the blog sphere and highlight some interesting posts I have come across! Enjoy:

Ellie has blogged on Heaven and Hell and the art work of John Martin -

Possibly because, like Martin, we’re a bit too good at painting vivid terrifying pictures of hell, and pretty rubbish at pointing them to Christ: God, stepped into history to bring them into a relationship.

Bish has blogged on taking off your shoes:
The Exodus story is a story I need to make sense of life. It's a story that tells me my god is one who will turn up, who will fight for me. And if he doesn't then I'm stuck between the enemy and the sea, between the wilderness and the promised land. Shoes off... like when Jesus washed his disciples feet?
 Gareth blogs about watching TV for the Glory of God

And (as someone else said, but I can’t remember who) when Jesus comes back, no-one will wish they’d watched more TV.  But is this the whole story?  I love TV.  I don’t just enjoy lounging in front of it and switching my brain off – I love it as an artform, as a medium for communication, and as a tool for education.
Ed blogs his thoughts on the Song of Songs

The Song is one of my favourite books of the Bible, and the more i think about it and read it, the more i am convinced it's primarily about Christ and His relationship with the church. Or maybe even better, the Son of David and his Ideal Bride. But it comes to the same thing. I also think we lose something of the depths of the Gospel if we fail to view this book in this way. Just like we'd lose some of the depths of the Gospel if we read Galatians as being primarily about eating bacon, or Exodus as being about extreme desert survival.
Emily blogs some lovely pictures of Sheringham

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spring Read

I have just finished two brilliant books which I want to share with you, although I am behind the times so you have probably read them!

1. Birdsong
This book has been on my reading list for ages - probably because I thought it would be boring or just too much of a guys war book... but it is far from it! Its a wonderful story that is quite graphic in areas but it grips you and you cant put the book down. Set in world war I, we are taken through the horrific details of wartime trenches and the life of a soldier called Stephen. Its about finding and losing love. Its about idols and the heart wrenching truth of when they fail us. Its about the dangers of power and the lusts of youth. Its brilliant and worth a read...






2. Time Traveler's wife
If you have seen the film, well the book is better...and less confusing!! This is about a time traveller who juggles time travelling un-expectantly, a marriage and other events! This is such a clever story and all credit must go to the author. The film doesn't do it justice. This book is a mixture of romance and suspense. You will wonder how this will all work out till the very end... worth a read.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The cold dull heart

Last night the Christian Union had a bring and share dinner overlooking the sea as the sun was setting. We enjoyed the food and fellowship and most of all we enjoyed the sunshine that was keeping us warm. But as the sun was setting, several of us were beginning to shiver due to the heat of the sun becoming less and less. We tried to wrap up warm, but it wasn't the same. As I got home, I reflected on this and realised it was an image of Christ and our hearts. 

We often think that as long as I go to church and my outward appearance looks Christian, then I am safe and I don't need to worry about my heart. But the real truth is that our hearts need Christ. Christ is like the sun to us, beaming his rays of warmth onto our heart, melting them, warming them to the point where they are inflamed with love and joy for Him. 

But what happens when the sun sets and Christ is no longer warmer our hearts?

I reflected on Romans 1 as I study this letter with a student. We notice that Gods judgement is not what we expected - we think he should be throwing down wrath on the wicked, but God does something that surprises us. He leaves us in our sin. - "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1v28)

This may not seem like a judgement at all and we may see it as a way to do what we want. But when you think about Christ being our warmth and our source of love and joy, we are reminded that this judgement is terrifying. Gods judgement is to allow us to go further into our sins and for our hearts to become cold and dull. To not have Christ shine his warming love into our hearts, is possibly the worst kind of judgement on this earth!

As I read through Exodus, I come across Pharaoh and I am told his heart become hard and God hardens his heart...we get so caught in "who hardens who", that we forget that this is Gods judgement on the wicked - Pharaohs heart is so bitter and hard and far from Christ that he cannot be warmed - his heart is cold and the outworking of that causing great distress. 

This cannot just be a warning to non Christians - but surely to Christians that dress up in Christianity or those of us who have hard hearts? You must ask yourself if your heart is adoring Christ, if the rays of his warming love is set upon your heart? Is your heart melting and becoming soft? “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3v15)...

Without Christ, just as the sun goes down, we become cold and dull. Keep in the fire of Christs love.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Created for a wedding...

Have you ever wondered why God created you? Why you are here on this earth? Edwards hits the nail on the head which may seem surprising...

"God created the world to provide a spouse and a kingdom for his son: and the setting up of the kingdom of Christ and the spiritual marriage of the spouse to Him, is what the whole creation labours and travails in pain to bring to pass"

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Sunshine of the Gospel

It seems that Richard Sibbes has come back from the dead and he is living in the South West. And what a joy that is!
This is no ordinary book and you may think that it being self published means that the content is not as good. You couldn't be more wrong. This is a collection of Sibbes sermons which are made accessible for todays reader by Dave Bish and this is one book you wouldn't want to miss...!

Sibbes has a way of speaking to your heart because he is trying to draw you to Jesus and warm your heart. He is not ashamed to speak of the struggles of man and how hard hearted we can be and he is not ashamed to point us back to Jesus and invite us to sit by the fire of his love. He is also not ashamed to draw us to the picture of the bride and groom and he does this through the song of songs and its wonderful - when you read this you will see how much Christ loves the church, how much he is wooing his bride to himself. The pictures and the language are rich and I really believe they will give you a different outlook to how you see church and how you think Christ views you.
So if you are a Christian that feels like everyday is a struggle and your heart is cold or you have forgotten that Christ loves you so much and that you need reminding of how to fall in love with Jesus again - then you need to read this book....seriously. I actually think that even if you feel like your relationship is great, you should still read this book and allow your love for Christ to grow stronger. You can never have enough of Jesus. 

Bish has done a good job here and I am not saying that because he is my friend and boss, but I am saying it because every time I read this book it made me look back at Christ and His word and Jesus made my heart softer and warmer each time. I so needed to read this and be reminded of Christs great love for me and for His bride.

So why not buy it here and see what I mean.

I would recommend that you take it in bit by bit, like fine wine or strong coffee - it allows you to enjoy it all the more!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The gaze of the groom

I had such joy watching the Royal Wedding on TV - probably because two weeks before I was doing the same thing (obviously not at Westminster Abbey!), but I was walking down the aisle with a lovely white dress on, holding on to my dad with my four beautiful bridesmaids behind me and waiting for me was my groom.

People love weddings and they should. It should be a time of celebrating and rejoicing. Two people are coming together to be man and wife - one flesh and the apostle Paul says this is a mystery, a wonderful mystery that reflects Christ and the church and the beautiful love story that is told in the pages of the bible. A marriage points us to something greater and whether its a common wedding like mine or a royal wedding like Kates, it still points us to the greatest wedding of all - Christ and the Church.

Em Bish made a point of capturing the moment that Tim and I looked at each other for the first time as I walked down the aisle. The first time that the groom gazes at the face of the bride. Em reminded me that this is a glimpse of Christ gazing at His bride, the church, for the first time and what a splendour that will be! I know for me that when I first saw Tim, I nearly cried with joy. Imagine what joy the church will have when they meet Christ and see Him face to face. Imagine the awe and splendour and beauty. At that moment everything slips away, the past no longer matters, the worries fade away - you are caught in that glimpse and you will never want to turn your face away.

I loved my wedding day and I am enjoying the gift of marriage, but I am also looking forward to the great Royal wedding between Christ and the Church. But in the meantime let us continue to enjoy the reflection that marriage presents and the mystery behind it all.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Redeeming the social avatar

A couple of days ago I spoke about repainting ourselves online and how we express ourselves differently. On the otherside of that, Emma Scrivener wrote a really great blog about social networking and how it can be used in a dishonest way.

One of the challenges that was raised in our discussion of social networking were the dangers and uses of social networking. There are many dangers of facebook and twitter and other such social networking sites. But that flags up a challenge for us as Christians. What I notice so often is that as Christians we like to say "no". That is one danger of social networking for us - we will brand it as "evil" and abstain from it and we will feel good about it, in fact we will feel holy.

Don't you feel righteous when you can say "no" to facebook? Where you can give it up for lent? We just get a real sense of holiness that we are not entrapped by this new fad. That is a huge danger and I think we need to steer away from that and actually turn this all around because the reality is that the world is using social media to connect with people and you may argue that this isn't right - but it is how people are creating communities and as Christians we can bury our heads in the sands of time or we can can actually use this social media for good.

So I ask this question - "How can we redeem social media for Christ?"

Social networking isn't a sin, but what I find is that I struggle with it because it highlights or projects sin more clearly onto its blue and white pages. But the problem isn't facebook - those sins are in my heart already. So maybe I need to think about how facebook can expose my sin and how am I going to deal with that sin in my heart? (i.e take it to Christ and repent). Here is a picture of Mark 7:14-23 - what defiles a person is what comes from the heart! So if I see myself putting up statuses that I know will feed my pride and give me attention - then social networking will project that, but the sin comes from my heart first... 

So lets redeem this social avatar, let social networking be a platform of displaying Christ. Lets think about how we use social networking - for who's gain is it for? Mindless gossip? stalking? attention seeking? or opportunities to bridge gaps in communities, to share the Gospel, to say encouraging things, advertising gospel projects or events, connect with people and to open our lives to people on one level?

But also social networking has a big arrow to the desires of the world - to be wanted, to be loved and to be a part of a community. Social networking fulfills that on one level and on that level we can get opportunities to share Christ and redeem all our activities on social networking for Christ. But then there is another level - the offline level, where real community is at, where we eat together, share life together and have face to face conversations. The social networking world is thirsting for authentic relationships, so then as Christians we need to fully give that when we are offline - in our church, in our street, in our job and in our relationships. There is no point offering a community and a relationship only through social networking and then ignore those who are next door to us!

I guess my concern is that we so easily open up when we are in front of a screen, but will we open our doors to those in need? Will we share the Gospel with those next to us on the bus? Will we invite that lonely person round for dinner? Will we open and share our lives with those around us? Will we eat with them and invite our non Christians friends to be a part of a community that loves, enjoys and encourages one another? Will we be that community?

What a challenge. What are your thoughts?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Repainting my self portrait


Where do I hang my self portrait? Where can the world admire or scorn it, comment on it and "like" it?

With each stroke of the brush and tap of the keys I upload my profile with quotes, captions and images. Here I am in written form - my self portrait on display. Social Networking is the gateway to all our own self portraits on display - its a gallery of creative musings, expressions and life. The question is whether its real or not? 

At team days we had a discussion on social networking and the challenges and implications of using this type of media to connect with people. There were some debate on whether social networking allows us to hide behind the screen and re-invent ourselves online so that we could be whoever we wanted. And I could if I wanted to - I could pretend that I was an amazing tea-drinking musician that wears victorian floral dresses. The problem though is that my real friends would know that this isnt true and therefore would question me over this. 

Perhaps we are all too suspicious? We think everyone is a fraud, trying to woo us to believing they are someone else, causing us to mistrust them and therefore we never enter into any deep relationships because we dont want to get hurt.

Lets turn this around.

Perhaps the portrait I project onto the social networking sight is the real me, perhaps its a space to invite others to see another side of me? Maybe social networking allows another way of being creative and connect with people which doesnt have to be disconnected with real life. What I say on here, is what I say in real life - let there not be a divide in "real life" and "social networking life". We need to be accountable in both and not separate them. 

My self portrait is up on the canvas of social networking. I could repaint it, but people would know and challenge me. I could move to another country and repaint myself, pretend to like new hobbies and dress differently, but in reality my heart is still the same - I cannot run from that. My heart is still the same on a social networking sight and yeh for a while I could be someone else, but in the end I cant sustain that and why would I want to? And why do you expect everyone else to be an alias? Maybe we are all expressing ourselves in different ways that capture a particular instance of our identity that is projected onto our self portraits of facebook. 

Not so different from self portraits of Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and Andy Warhol...
All expressions of how they see themselves and none of them I would say are repainting themselves to be something they are not.

"My painting is a representation of life, my own life above all, which has been very difficult. So perhaps my painting is very violent, but this is natural to me." Francis Bacon Quote

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Coffee on a Postcard

UK Coffee Week is approaching (4th-10th April) and below are a collection of postcards of the London Coffee Festival, which I love! I wish I could be in London and see it and be a part of it. However I will drink more coffee instead. Perhaps those close to London will blog about it?





Thursday, March 31, 2011

Walking around the art room

One afternoon during team days, we had the opportunity to go to an Andy Warhol exhibition in Southampton. This was a fascinating trip, partly because I didn’t really understand the art nor would I want it hanging on my living room walls. But the best part for me was when one of our relay workers spent the time to explain what she looks for in art and what questions she asks herself about the art. To be honest, I was more fascinated with the process of how to understand the art in front of me rather then the two blocks of colours staring at me. But just because I didn’t find it pleasing to the eye, doesn’t mean that what it’s communicating is not relevant! I appreciate those that enjoy this type of art and I am willing to learn more about it, especially as it affects our culture and our ways of thinking. It’s too primitive for me to believe that I should only listen or look at what I like and ignore all the other voices. 

Gareth Leaney blogs brilliantly about the exhibition here.


With Andy Warhol being such a weight in pop culture, identity and celebrity, means that the audience needs to sit up and listen. Especially the Christian - no more burying your head in the sands of Christian culture, but we need to open our eyes and ears to see and hear that the world is speaking and how they desire for something more.

But will we be a part of the conversation? 
Do we have anything to say?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

To hear what I need

I don't know about you, but when I wake up in the morning I find that I want nothing to do with the Gospel or Jesus. In fact I prefer to wake up and think about the day ahead and all the things I want to do - my agenda, my life, my identity. As I awake I find my heart so hard and dull. I think that if I was to do everything I wanted then I would be satisfied.

What a lie.

The one thing I need to hear is the Gospel.
I need to hear it because I don't want to hear it.
I need to hear it because my heart needs to be melted
I need to hear it because it brings me life. Christ brings me life and has made me alive.

Team days were all about the Gospel and I didn't want to hear it but I needed to hear it and I am thankful that I did hear it. The Gospel makes fellowship sweet and food tasty and hearts melting... lets keep hearing it and keeping speaking it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday morning is for...

Study.
[and coffee].

Bible open. Notepad and pen to the ready. Articles to look at and coffee brewing.

My question that I am mulling over today is how I read the bible - how do I read scripture? More specifically how do I read the OT and the NT...

Some Monday morning questions to ponder over:

Do I believe that the NT interprets the OT?
 Or 
Do I think the OT interprets the NT?

Does the NT tell me that I need to re-read the OT in a different way and that Jesus re-interprets the OT for me...or does the OT interpret what Jesus and the apostles are saying and therefore the OT does not need interpreting from the NT?

Is the Trinity in the OT? ... Or does God just like talking to himself? ...

These are just questions floating around. Not really for anyone to answer, but feel free to comment!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Christ will not quench the smoking flax

The second observation concerning the weak and small beginnings of grace is that Christ will not quench the smoking flax. This is so for two principal reasons. 

First, because this spark is from heaven: it is his own, it is kindled by his own Spirit. 

And secondly, it tends to the glory of his powerful grace in his children that he preserves light in the midst of darkness, a spark in the midst of the swelling waters of corruption.

THE LEAST SPARK OF GRACE IS PRECIOUS!

We have no need to feel discouraged. Think of these people in the bible:

"We see how our Saviour Christ bore with Thomas in his doubting (John 20:27), and with the two disciples that went to Emmaus, who wavered as to whether he came to redeem Israel or not (Luke 24:21). He quenched not that little light in Peter, which was smothered: Peter denied him, but he denied not Peter (Luke 22:61). `If thou wilt, thou canst,' said one poor man in the Gospel (Matt. 8:2). `If thou canst do anything,' said another (Mark 9:22).

 Both were smoking flaxes. Neither of them was quenched. If Christ had stood upon his own greatness, he would have rejected him that came with his `if'."

How amazing is it that even when we doubt and stumble, Christ will never blot us out, he will never stomp on us. He kindles the flame or the small spark and never puts us out even though we mess up!!

May we shine brighter! 

Sibbes shows us the true nature of Christ... how we are so different to him because we are in a culture where we crush the weak and hold up the strong. In our evolution mindset we must strive and conquer and leave those that are weak far behind...but Christ is so different...

"Man for a little smoke will quench the light. Christ, we see, ever cherishes even the least beginnings. How he bore with the many imperfections of his poor disciples! If he did sharply check them, it was in love, and that they might shine the brighter. Can we have a better pattern to follow than this from him by whom we hope to be saved?"

Christ cherishes the weak! He cherishes us as we are low and in darkness. This is good news to us - he makes us shine brighter - even if that comes at a sharpness it is always for our good. Is this not a patter for us to follow? Will we treasure the weak and vulnerable - holding them in our arms, giving them tender love and showing great mercy. Will we be a church that never leaves anyone behind? 

Lastly a brilliant quote from Sibbes - 
"Weak Christians are like glasses which are hurt with the least violent usage, but if gently handled will continue a long time. This honor of gentle use we are to give to the weaker vessels (1 Pet. 3:7), by which we shall both preserve them and likewise make them useful to the church and ourselves." 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Thursday, March 03, 2011

The beauty of reading

Choosing a new book to read can be complex. The choice is endless as the stacks of written words are displayed before you, screaming at you, beckoning you to open their delightful pages and smell the aroma of the narrative. As you scan your eyes across titles and colours and images that capture your imagination, you are soon caught by a book. Why you choose it, you may never know. But how you begin to read it, is important. 

As you open the front cover and allow the spine to make little crackles, you press your nose against the pages and breathe deeply in. You are perhaps in-hailing a master piece. You feel the pages beneath your fingertips and notice the rough indents. You turn to the first page with its beaming Chapter One while the carefully chosen words dance in front of you. Your mind begins to unravel a charming story that is aided by words that unfold characters and natures and worlds that you never knew before. Suddenly a whole new existence is created and you feel very much a part of it. 

A book should never be unaccompanied. Its traveling friend is always a cup of coffee. So that just as you smell the fresh pages of a new book, you can almost imagine its like opening a bag of fresh filter coffee and having the luxury of absorbing the rich smell of coffee beans and allowing this aroma to dance and skip with your senses.

Soon you are in the middle of the book and the characters are no longer shadows. Your coffee is traveling beside you and you enjoy the rustic rich flavour. You find yourself talking and engaging with world views and apologetics. Your imagination is fueled by artistic sentences and sketches of the real world and there is no flashing lights or glaring screens, no loud music or noiseless chatter.

Its just you curled up with pages of imagination that tinkle and trickle into joyful worlds of art, literature and timeless history. And it can always be picked up again no sooner then when you have finished and placed it upon the table next to the empty cup of coffee. 

You cant get any of this from facebook or blogs or TV. Its just not the same. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Consider ourselves as Christ does

After a little break - the Bruised Reed blogging is back!

We have seen what it is to be bruised and how Christ is our greatest comfort. But Sibbes also talks about what it is to be a smoking flax. He describes the smoking flax as:

"In a smoking flax there is but a little light, and that weak, as being unable to flame, and that little mixed with smoke. The observations from this are that, in God's children, especially in their first conversion, there is but a little measure of grace, and that little mixed with much corruption, which, as smoke, is offensive; but that Christ will not quench this smoking flax."

I think what Sibbes is getting at, is the times of doubt and times when we feel discouraged at our growth as Christians and the frustrations of sin in our lives that blemish us. Which can bring us to being bruised as well, its like a circle of feeling bruised because we are a smoking flax and the other way around. I think this because he gives examples: 
 
"Moses at the Red Sea, being in a great perplexity, and knowing not what to say, or which way to turn, groaned to God. No doubt this was a great conflict in him. In great distresses we know not what to pray, but the Spirit makes request with sighs that cannot be expressed (Rom. 8:26). Broken hearts can yield but broken prayers.

Help thou mine unbelief.' There is smoke (Mark 9:24). 
Jonah cries, `I am cast out of thy sight.' There is smoke
`Yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.' There is light (Jon. 2:4)

`O wretched man that I am!', says Paul, with a sense of his corruption. Yet he breaks out into thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 7:24)." 

But there is always great hope in times of doubt and our confrontation with sin. I think I find these times really hard because I see how unworthy I am and how much I need Christ and how much I am so far from living for Him in my heart. My heart is certainly corrupt!! 

But again Sibbes encourages us to not look within ourselves nor dwell to much on our sin but to look to Christ, who values us so highly because of the work He does in us! -

"Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look on ourselves as elected to be `holy and without blame' (Eph. 1:4). Let us look on our imperfect beginning only to enforce further striving to perfection, and to keep us in a low opinion of ourselves. Otherwise, in case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those he intends to fit for himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are elected unto. We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing up to be so. `Who has despised the day of small things?' (Zech. 4:10). Christ would not have us despise little things. "

This is amazing, just digest this again.... 
"Otherwise, in case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those he intends to fit for himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are elected unto."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sitting by the fire of Christs love

Why do you evangelise?

Or perhaps a better question is:

Why don't you evangelise? 

The more I think about this the more I have to look into my own heart and see how I respond to these questions. Most the time my answer would be:

Why do I evangelise?: Because I feel like I have to or church told me to or that's what Christians do, right?

Why don't I evangelise?: Because I feel like have to or I just dont feel like it. 

I don't think I stand alone in this. That may sound odd. But I bet youth workers and pastors struggle with this too. Perhaps you sigh with relief when you hear my response?

I have been thinking about why this is and I have realised that when I am feeling most alive and on fire for God - in the sense that my affections for Christ are on fire is the time when I most want to tell people about Jesus. I want to tell people about Jesus when my heart is soft and melting with his love. Its when I am being reminded of the Gospel, when my heart is warmed to the truth of Christ, when someone sets Christ in front of me as the greatest joy in the world, where they bring about flames of adoration and worship to my soul because of the love of Christ.

I don't mean just knowledge of who Christ is nor "feeling" pleased with how I am doing as a Christian. Forget what I am doing and how my quiet times are going - they are not the object of my affections. I mean when we truly, deeply love Christ and are drawn to Him, seeing that he is lovely in the sense of all beauty, all perfection, all comfort, all satisfaction, all joy... if my heart can be kindled by the love of Christ which will then set my soul on fire for Him and to burn with deep love and adoration for Him alone - then there will be no escaping the desire to tell the world about the one whom I love.

So I ask:

Imagine if we heard sermons like that on Sunday?
Imagine if we fired up the Christian Union like that during the week?
Imagine if our 121s were like that?
Imagine if we as Christians were reminded of the Gospel daily, drawn to the love and depth of Christ so that our hearts are dripping with adoration for him...

Imagine how that would affect our lives. Our desires. Our evangelism. Our conversations. Our attitudes....

Lets have more of Christ. More affectionate, heart stirring, Gospel warming, sin cutting, soul healing, fire burning love for Christ in our conversations, sermons, seminars, 121s, outreach....

Are you sitting in the cold right now? You don't feel this love? Well why don't you sit by the fire of Christs love, remind yourself of the Gospel and His great love for you. Sit there until your heart has melted.

Richard Sibbes says:
" If God love us thus, what must we do? Meditate upon his love. Let our hearts be warmed with the consideration of it. Let us bring them to that fire of his love, and then they will be like hot wax within us"


Why do I evangelise?: Because the love of Christ burns in me and warms my heart so that I cannot help but share the Gospel

Why don't I evangelise?: Because my heart is hard and cold and needs to sit by the fire of Christs love until it melts

Friday, February 18, 2011

Petty, Trivial, Unworthy?

I spent the morning listening to the Dawkins and Lennox debate on The God Delusion... right at the end it came down to one thing which Richard Dawkins says...

“It all quite really comes down to the resurrection of Jesus. It has a fundamental incompatibility [with] the sophisticated scientist,”
“It’s (resurrection of Christ argument) so petty, it’s so trivial, it’s so local, it’s so earth-bound, it’s so unworthy of the universe.” - Richard Dawkins in the debate
 I found that very interesting...

For more information on the resurrection have a look here:
  
The Historicity of the Empty Tomb of Jesus 

Contemporary scholarship and the resurrection of Jesus

Is there really solid evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Enough mercy for today

A really wonderful reminder of how God gives us Grace and Mercy that is enough for today and today only. Each new day he gives us exactly what we need:

The manna in the wilderness was given one day at a time. There was
no storing up. That is the way we must depend on God’s mercy.
You do not receive today the strength to bear tomorrow’s burdens. You are given mercies today for today’s troubles. Tomorrow the mercies will be new. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9, RSV). “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will act!” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, author’s translation).(John Piper - A Godward Life)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Be-Engaging :: The Last Supper

What if you were posed with a question and situation that could change the world? What if you invited someone round for dinner and found out that they had thoughts and ideas that were very wrong and evil? What if you could rid the world of one evil person in order to save hundreds... what if Hitler came to dinner at a time when he was a young man, many years before he did all those horrible things - what would you do knowing the truth of his actions many years later?

Big Questions.

This film, "The last supper" is about the problem of evil. Its also an exposure of justice and how we think of Evil. 

The scene is around a dinner table where good food is served and good wine is poured. But there is a twist. The wine doesn't taste so good and the company doesn't seem so much fun anymore. A group of university graduates invite controversial people round for dinner, knowing that their ideas and thoughts are quite radical and perhaps very wrong. These students took the liberty to kill off these guests in order to save man kind.
But then it gets out of hand. Suddenly they were killing people that they simply disagreed with. The table turns - who is evil here? There conscience plays against them and they cant shake off the feeling that perhaps what they are doing is wrong... 

This film is brilliant and one of my favorites because it has many twists and turns and delves into some extreme ideas. It gets you thinking about the big questions in life. 

And the questions I would ask are:

1. Who is evil? 
2. What is evil and where did it come from?
3. Do we, like the students, think that we should take justice in our own hands and kill off people we disagree with?
4. Is there any room for persuasion and conversation?
5. What does the Gospel say?

Well I want to tie in what the Gospel says about who is evil, because I think thats the most important question and Jesus answers it:

      And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
(Mark 7:20-23 ESV)

This list from Jesus doesn't excuse anyone. Which means that the problem of evil is the human heart and everyone has a human heart like this and therefore we come to a conclusion that the answer to the question "Who is evil?" is me and you. Suddenly I sit at that table and I know I am not pure and cannot judge other people - for my heart is evil. And I think thats what these students suddenly come to realise in the film, they saw that they themselves have an evil heart with wrong thoughts - they were no better then those they were killing. 

But there is hope and the Gospel offers hope. On the one hand Jesus says the problem is our hearts, but on the other hand he offers us a renewed heart and salvation. 

 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. [Ezekiel 36:26]

How amazing is that?

For more resources on the problem of Evil, do look at the bethinking website.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This grace in which we stand

Something really struck me the other day as I was walking home and thinking of how the day went. What struck me was the life of Jesus in the Gospels. I realised that Jesus understood something about his relationship with God more then I do. Of course Jesus knows and understands more then me in everything, but there is one thing that really caught my attention.

Have you ever noticed how Jesus went through so much hurt and rejection and yet never stumbled? He never doubted himself or his relationship with his Father. I know Jesus is God, but as I am thinking on a human level I was reminded how Jesus really did grasp and understand how his worth and identity was completely in the Father. He knew that no matter how much the world rejected him, his standing was still the same with the Father. 

Imagine if we truly grasped that? If in our hearts we really did understand that our worth and identity was in Jesus and no matter how the world views us, whether they praise us or rejects us - it can never change our standing with God. Never. 

Imagine if our hearts really treasured this truth the same way Jesus did?
Where we no longer strive for the praises of man or believe that I need to do things to earn the praise of God. But that I truly rest in what Christ has done for me on the cross. There I am secure in my relationship with God and can no longer worry about the praises of man or what people think of me. 

Then Romans 5 does seem sweet indeed:

     Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
(Romans 5:1-2 )

Friday, February 11, 2011

Be-Engaging :: Angel-A

Set on the noir streets of Paris we are introduced to a self loathed small time criminal that can't pay his debts back. What does he need? A helping hand! So an Angel falls from the sky and helps him out. But there is a twist, this Angel and man called Andre fall in love and we are taken on an adventure of self discovery and the complex emotions of love. 

The biggest theme I picked up on was that of Andre and his idea of love. Angela (the Angel) confronts him and places him in front of a mirror and tells Andre to say "I love you" to himself. The idea behind this is that he cannot love others unless he is first loved and she points the finger back to him and suggests that he needs to start loving himself before he can love others. This caught my attention and made me ask two questions:

1. How much truth is there behind the idea of self love and loving others?
2. What does the Gospel say to this?

Some of my thoughts about self love were a mixture of understanding where they were coming from and not being quite satisfied with that. But perhaps it is indeed true that if we hate ourselves and see ourselves completely unworthy of love, then loving others will perhaps prove difficult. It is also very true that we cannot love others unless we ourselves are loved. But I want to move the picture further on and say that self love will never satisfy nor complete us, that the story can never end at self love or we will swing between the emotional roller coaster of love and loathing ourselves, between pride and pity. 

This idea of love must come under Gods love in order to be fully satisfying and complete. We are wonderfully told in scripture the truth that we can indeed love because we were first loved:

      "We love because he first loved us. "
(1 John 4:19 ESV)

Here is where the pin drops. The true colours of love are displayed here with the richness of this verse. Yes we cannot love if we are not ourselves loved first. But for ourselves to be loved it cannot be about looking within ourselves and lavishing ourselves with our own love. No, it must come from outside ourselves - from the perfect creator that is Love, that lavishes his love on us that is pure and selfless, our God who enables us to love because he loved us first. This is what Andre needed to hear, he didn't need to shout at his reflection that he loves himself - in fact he loves himself too much. But he needed to hear that he is loved and its not from within but it is from our Heavenly Father. 

Is this not a message we all need to hear? A message that students need to hear on university campus as they struggle with loneliness in their halls or trying to fit in on sports socials? Is this not a message for staff workers who may be struggling with approval, or stay at home mums who may feel disconnected with the world or the teenage girl who is struggling with image... there are many situations where we need to not look in the mirror and say "I love you", but where we need to hear our heavenly Father say "I loved you first"...