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...

[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?
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.


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.