Thursday, 30 December 2010

A new year and a new life?

There's something cleansing about a new year, a chance to say goodbye to the old and look forward to the new and all of the exciting possibilities. All those promises and resolutions, to do more of somethings and less of the other stuff. We then get ready for the disappointments that follow and an acceptance of our 'lot' because why would things change for us? Yet for some people there is an almost anticipation of what could happen next year, a sense of  "there must be more than this" (Consuming Fire Tim Hughes). Yet it's difficult to let go of the old and our old ways that we know bring out the worst in us. If only there is a way?

So we stand in a circle with our arms crossed, holding on to the people next to us like everything depends on it. In anticipation of what will happen as we listen to the sounds of "Big Ben" and the song of Auld Lang Syne. These words are sung all over the world as a nostalgic reminiscence and a toast of past relationships and memories (to find out more just use the googlator). After more toasting, plenty of hugs and kisses; comes the enthusiasm and hunger to create this new life for ourselves. Then in the cold light of the following day something within prevents us from making those changes. Creates doubt in our mind and tells us we are not worth it, because who could love us that much. Leaving a thirst for something more in our life. If only there is a way?


John 6:35 (CEV) Jesus replied: I am the bread that gives life! No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry. No one who has faith in Me will ever be thirsty.
Enjoy this special time with your friends & family and as you look at the next year, remember there is another way.

All the best

:o)


Monday, 20 December 2010

Beyond the tinsel

Let me just say that as this post is being written, I am looking at my Christmas tree with perfectly aligned tinsel equidistant from each bauble and bulb; which in turn has been strategically placed to extenuate each individual branch. The last bit is nonsense, but  we spend days preparing for our events at Christmas and sadly when we ask friends, "What was your Christmas like?" We tend to hear, "It was OK." And I suppose that is acceptable, especially when we think about all the pressures and stresses that the very preparations can create, not taking into account the day itself, when "The Rels" arrive!

I say, enjoy putting up the Christmas tree or pulling crackers, by the way who thought Christmas needed spicing up by giving away over lunch, nail clippers and packs of playing cards too small to see. Let's not even forget Slade's Merry Christmas Everyone! Enjoy the day even though Aunty Shirley thinks we are still six years old, or Uncle Arthur insists on doing the conga after a few merryments (is that a word). Even spare a thought for our nearest and dearest who has prepared for the day so that we can exercise our so called right to "relax". Please don't lose sight of the precious relationships we have with each other. Just for one moment, look beyond the tinsel and as we are celebrating this time over a meal please remember who this Christ Celebration (Christ mas) is about, Jesus and our relationship with Him.

Have a Happy Christmas.
:o)   




Thursday, 16 December 2010

We need You

Lord we need You,
A void in our very soul,
We pine for You,
And You took care of everything,
We turned our back and You welcomed us with open arms- but we keep turning our back,
Yet some will never know,
We reach out,
Lord we need You.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

What we need now is a relationship?

Watching a "Why Jesus?" video produced by ALPHA, I experienced one of those aha moments. I have always known this but not really understood- we need relationships and how great do friends, family, husband, wife, girlfriend or boyfriend make you feel, well most of the time. But have you ever found that's not always enough? It is suggested that puppies should not be separated from their Mother until they are at least 8 weeks old. One reason is that they can experience separation anxiety or pine for their mother. 

Pin-ing is an interesting word and I don't mean of the evergreen variety. Have you ever been separated from someone for a length of time that you experience this longing for them? Children can feel this way when they are separated from their nearest and dearest and that's how I would describe pin-ing. If you have recently left a relationship you may be experiencing this kind of emotion at the moment. 

There's another kind of pin-ing, a missing relationship with God our creator. I know that's what was missing in my life and now like that Casting Crown Song says, "Somewhere in the Middle", that's where I am now. 2 Cor 5:18 God sent His only Son “who reconciled us to Himself through Christ”. To reestablish a close relationship with God. Jesus our Lord died on the cross so that our Sins would not be counted against us (2 Cor 5:19), which prevents us from having a relationship with God.

Now to have that kind of relationship, imagine where we would be? I sit in awe at that thought, of what Jesus did for us at the cross, so that we can have a relationship with God. 


Do you pine for a relationship with God?


Monday, 29 November 2010

It's snowing! Enable the ploughs?

The snow arrives, it starts with a few flakes, then a small shower and without us realising it, a full blown blizzard. We are stranded, stuck in our cars and prevented from going any further.

I reckon in the top 10 of important jobs at the moment are drivers of snow ploughs, they have got to be up there! Even the flashing amber lights are a relief (strange how in the summer they tend to mean being stuck in endless traffic jams and being annoyed :o) ). These people do a really important job, apart from clearing the road for us to continue on our journey, they are enablers. Without them we just couldn't move. Imagine if these ploughers cleared the snow and then drove our car to where we were going. Apart from changing job title to chauffeur, they have taken control of the journey and suddenly we only experience the drive as a passenger. What if, they decided to take us somewhere they wanted to go, but we didn't? Where would that leave us?

This evening I've been thinking about all the encounters people had with Jesus, like the many healings which literally changed lives. In Mark 10:52, "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you.". Bartimaeus received his sight and followed Jesus down the road. At no point did Jesus say "you must now follow me, let me grab your arm and I will drag you there screaming."

Absolutely not, it was Bartimaeus that followed Jesus, in wonder and praise at the possibilities of being able to experience the world differently, he was healed! Jesus enabled people to do something next, an action which would hopefully be followed by another and another. At no point after an encounter with Him where people to remain the same and yet neither could they expect Jesus to physically grab them by the hand and drag them along. Jesus enabled His encounters to start their journey.

A thought,  are you an enabler or do you grab people by the hand? It's a fine line.



Thursday, 11 November 2010

Just a quick post to say thank you

Hi

Thank you to everyone who has been reading these posts from someone who has started the walk of Faith with Jesus. I really didn't know what that road would look like and really don't know what the the next stretch will bring. My pray is for anyone on this journey, that every single moment is embraced; a new courage to open our hearts to know what it means to be free through our Lord Jesus Christ is discovered.


2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.


take care :o)

Friday, 5 November 2010

More than a great read

Whilst listening to a Christian internet radio station (www.thisispower.co.uk). A preacher came on to talk about The Bible and applying this to life. This was very relevant to something that had been on my mind all week. 

At any of the Bible study and discipleship groups I have attended, not once have I walked away thinking, "What a boring read that was, I'll  pop it on the top shelf and read it another time", knowing that it will gather dust like all those other ones. The Bible has completely challenged and changed people, unfortunately sometimes I have dismissed these messages because they have been so close to the truth in my life.

So, I am listening to the internet, when the preacher talks about The Words being guidance for life. A safe and secure place, a wall of protection that sets clear boundaries in our life that by following means we are living to the potential that Jesus sees for each one of us. Don't confuse a safe and secure place with walls like a prison because there is an open gate where we are free to leave at anytime. Proverbs 30:5 (NIV), "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him."

I was given some advice when reading this great book and I would like to share this with anyone who is in the same position. Ask yourself three important questions when reading scripture;

1. What did the writer mean?

2. What does this mean to you?

3. What could God be saying to you?

The Living Word will still challenge you as that is intended, but this advice may give you a way to focus your thoughts.



Monday, 1 November 2010

Seeing is believing?

Can't possibly imagine what it would be like to lose my sight and not being able to see the world or experience it's visual beauty. Unfortunately and I include myself in this one, we take our sight for granted by assuming that it's going to be there for the rest of our life. I have also experienced not being able to see, even though I have sight. Sometimes the very thing that we treasure the most, we don't even recognise.

A story comes to mind about a guy on an underground train. Some children are running a muck in the carriage. He tries to ignore them, but notices that other passengers are becoming bothered by the noise. Finally he plucks up enough courage to talk to the children's father, "Can you do something about your children they are causing a nuisance and annoying the other passengers." The father replies, "I know, but what can I do? I have just come from the hospital where their Mum has died." And then there was sight. Some events do this, particularly the ones that challenge how we see the world.

Imagine a beggar without sight, sat on the side of a road. Some people are throwing money, others are ignoring him and even passers-by are scoffing and shouting insults. Pretty much everything he owns, the beggar carries. In their heart they know an event will happen, that if only it does and their chance comes along they will grab it with both arms, with absolute faith. 

In Mark 10:46-52, there is a beggar in very similar circumstances. He calls out to Jesus who is leaving the city and asks for His mercy, but the crowd attempt to keep the beggar quiet. This just encourages him even more and then Jesus calls for the man. He is asked by Jesus in verse 51, "What do you want me to do for you?" He knew what to ask and was given his sight. Imagine just being able to see the world and the first person you look at is Jesus!



Friday, 22 October 2010

Who moved my bread but left the tea-lights- part two

Anyone who reads this blog will notice that supermarkets are mentioned a lot. Suppose the question to ask is, how much time does the author spend in a supermarket? If I can help it very little, shopping is not my favourite pass time. It goes down with ironing shirts on a Sunday evening. It's a necessity but I can think of so many better things to do. By the way this post is not going to discuss the pros and cons of shopping and the impact this has on society, let's leave that to other blogs. I just wonder whether people are looking for more from a supermarket than it could ever deliver?

Whoever invented trolley's, what an engineering master piece. Think they have to go in the same category as the person who invented cats eyes for roads, they're everywhere! Don't forget that person's idea, of putting a pound in the slot to get a trolley; certainly has stopped our local river from becoming a food cart grave yard. I think the ultimate aim of a trolley is to fill it as high as you possibly can and then spend hours putting everything away in cupboards at the other end. Well supermarket managers would be happy with us doing that at least. A bit like life really; a collection of stuff that we have picked up on our journey, some wanted, some picked up on impulse and other stuff because we took a wrong turn down an isle. We then spend the rest of the time trying to put the unwanted things away and finding ways to use the items we think we really need.

Throughout The Gospels in The Bible, there are examples of where Jesus meets people and knows exactly what is holding them back, preventing them from having a relationship with God. In Mark 10:17-22 (NIV), Jesus meets a young rich man who "fell on his knees" in awe and declares that he has stuck to the commandments. Jesus points out in verse 21 "One thing you lack," He said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." OK hold your horses and steady on, does that mean we must sell everything? No, but there could be other things in our life preventing us from having a relationship with God. 


After Jesus points out this revelation to the Rich Young Man, in verse 22, at this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. I have had many a "face falling experience" and just wished I listened more. Food for thought?



Saturday, 16 October 2010

A difference is a difference to someone

This is a post with a story that got me and a prayer, that you find your own meaning through Jesus Christ our Lord. This was originally published in a book called The Unexpected Universe by Loren Eisely and called the Star Thrower. 

There was a man who was walking along a sandy beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking the starfish one by one and throwing them back into the ocean. The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the sea, otherwise they would die. The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? The boy picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean and said "Made a difference to that one..." The man left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said.  He soon returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea....

Saturday, 9 October 2010

When the numbers are wrong then return with a thud

So I'm in my local supermarket with stuff in the trolley and I'm looking beyond the kiosk and see a queue for the lottery. With many people grasping hold of their really important numbers based on meaningful dates of events in their lives. That's the thing this ticket has so many emotional attachments and expectations; the main one being winning life changing money. It could really be you, this money could really change a life.

How much would it cost to make that change? I was watching the news this morning, when a guest on the show attempted to answer that very question, by saying £100 million would mean that you would no longer need to worry any more. Does that mean £100 million is how much a new life costs?

Then there's that feeling- this could be the time, when that life changing money arrives. The plans that are made, the holidays organised, cars that are bought, the houses that are built and the people that can be helped. Admittedly this is all done in the head.

As the lottery queue grows, each individual clings on to their purchased ticket with faith for that moment and until the numbers are announced, that they are going to win this new life. And that's the thing in reality we are disappointed, because those important dates in our life didn't match the right numbers on the night. It's OK though, because we accept our lot and return with a thud back to our old life. The thing is, it really doesn't have to be like this...

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Who moved my bread, but left the tea-lights- Part One

Don't you just hate it when you go to your local supermarket to buy some milk, bread and tea bags to find they have moved everything around. A chore that appears fairly easy suddenly becomes really complicated.

It's like going to your Swedish furniture store (think you know which one I mean!) to get what you want; can't find it and end up buying some kitchen gadget, a really practical storage device apparently, and some tea-lights instead. In the end you start looking for something; never really finding it and accept something else as a substitute- ending up with a trolley full of 'stuff', which you neither need or want. Doesn't life feel like that sometimes?

A diversion here, a wrong turn somewhere else and a hold up further down the road and without realising it, Jesus is not fully central anymore in our lives and there's 'stuff' in the trolley. There is real hope, seek advice from trusted mature Christians, put some of the 'stuff' aside to read the Bible and pray to our Lord, redirecting our lives back in the place where Jesus is central again.

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV), So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Just come as you are

Last night I was listening to a song called, Broken and Beautiful and starts, "there's a businessman, there's a widowed wife..." Great song with a message, "Come as you are."
It reminded me of all those invitations to social events and thinking about the most appropriate clothing, because I wanted to fit in. To hide amongst the crowd, when I really wanted to wear jeans!

My very few experiences as a kid, going to church could be counted on the right hand. They involved getting dressed up in fairly 'stiff' clothing and making sure I looked the part for the occasion in my full 'Sunday best' to fit in.

So where do we go when "your world comes crashing in" or things are just not right? Do we worry about putting on our 'Sunday best' and putting on a front and looking perfect in front of our Lord or do we 'come as we are' bring all of our 'stuff' no matter what it looks like. Someone once said, "nobody knows 'me' better than me and God."

There is an open invitation to a place for the lost, the hurting, the broken, or to anyone- church; things have changed. Don't worry about what to wear because you can 'come as you are' and you will fit in just fine. With this in your heart and mind there is real hope in Psalm 32 (New International Version)

1 Blessed is he
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man
whose sin the LORD does not count against him
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

3 When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.

4 For day and night
your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Selah

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, "I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD "—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Selah

6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you
while you may be found;
surely when the mighty waters rise,
they will not reach him.

7 You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Selah

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you.

9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart!

Friday, 17 September 2010

The ice is still clinging on

As this is being written my freezer is defrosting, it's ok I'm doing it on purpose. But there's this massive piece of stubborn ice that is just clinging on. 

I have made several attempts to remove it by using kitchen utensils to even DIY equipment, yet it still will not budge. Unfortunately whether this ice likes it or not it's going to have to let go and 'move on' to better things it's inevitable, the freedom of being water (ok I'm pushing it now :o) ), but it's funny how we cling on to things when we know in our heart something else is so much better for us.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Then the light bulb came on

I went to school, quite sometime ago. It was when BBC made computers. Well I say computers, they were more like big lumps of plastic with steam coming from them. Let me just say I was not the greatest student ever; but I always remember my Chemistry lessons. The teacher always seemed passionate about their subject, he told great stories, which engaged me. One thing he always did at the end of each lesson was to leave things hanging. What I mean, is that he finished the lesson with a question (or statement) that was thought provoking. Trusting that his students would fill in the gaps. Most people had what I call the 'aha' moment, when they really got the learning, just like a light bulb going on.

Shortly I'm going to tell you something that I hope blows your mind like it does mine, every time I think about it. I have been interested in how people learn and develop for many years and subscribe to the principle; "you can trust people to learn, if you create the right environment", assuming they want to of course (this isn't the mind blowing bit :o) ). There are hundreds of books on this subject. All of them explaining various models and some claiming to be the most up-to-date yet. 

Here is the bit that blows my mind,  Jesus used these approaches about 2000 years ago. I am amazed by the stories He tells and just when you really get into it, He leaves things hanging to let people fill in the gaps later and have real life changing experiences. In Mark 8:21 (NIV) Jesus really challenges His Disciples with the line "Do you still not understand?" at the end of his sermon or in Mark 7:15,  "Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean'." Then He ups and leaves. There are so many more examples of Him engaging people with life changing teachings. Can you imagine what it would be like for the crowds who followed our Lord Jesus around and the 'light bulb' moments they had. 

This post is from the ramblings of someone who has had that 'light-bulb' moment. Whose life has changed in so many ways for the better, by following our Lord Jesus. 

Friday, 10 September 2010

Sometimes the words just say it- Mighty to Save

Have been listening to Mighty to Save, lyrics by Hillsong and these lyrics just say it all for me...


"Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.

Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Saviour;
The Hope of nations."

So my prayer is that we all receive compassion and ask from our very lips for forgiveness and keep Jesus in our mind and heart as we travel this road.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

He Who Would Valiant Be...

I have had this hymn in my head since church this morning. It reminds me of being in the assembly hall at school and then I read the last paragraph, a promise of hope.

Here is the youtube link to the music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uUTyS6QRWE

He Who Would Valiant Be


He who would valiant be ’gainst all disaster,



Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There’s no discouragement shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.

Who so beset him round with dismal stories
Do but themselves confound - his strength the more is.
No foes shall stay his might; though he with giants fight,
He will make good his right to be a pilgrim.




Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end, shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away! I’ll fear not what men say,
I’ll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.


(Original words by John Bunyan and modified by Percy Dearmer... if you know anymore, please just add a comment to this post)


Friday, 3 September 2010

Stopping off and the numbers are changed...

My son and me stopped off at a family pub and restaurant today. You know the type, find a table to sit down at, then deliberate and cogitate on what you are going to eat. Take everyone's order from your group, go to the food counter and then you forget your table number!


Wonder what would happen if it was a busy Sunday afternoon and somebody changed all the numbers on all of the tables in the venue. Guess it would be absolute pandemonium (if you are thinking impossible, they would have another system then go with this anyway :0) ); nobody would know which order went where? How would they decide? By who had waited the longest, who looked the hungriest or maybe they could call the orders out. What would happen if people ordered the same food though? I know, they could give the meal to the people who had offered their feed to someone else first. How would they decide if these people are kind and deserving of it; maybe it's just that they are not that hungry and happy to give their dinner to someone else.


Then someone stands up and says to the staff, "put the food on the table and we will pick the meal we ordered". How many people will choose to get up amongst all that confusion and walk up to the table and receive their food? Some won't want to standout from the crowd; others, maybe happy commenting on how disorganised everything is and how hungry they are; others will have missed what's happening because they 'nipped off for a second'. Some would think it was complicated and believe they would not receive their 'food'.


Thinking about this situation, stepping up to the table, John 6:35-38 (NIV) offers a challenge to anyone stood in chaos and confusion with real hope for anyone who steps out from it.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

My prayer is that we all have the strength and wisdom to pull us from chaos and I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Unlock your true potential...

Is a phrase used on many a self-development type course, I've probably used it myself a few times. It is over used and misunderstood, associated with achieving the impossible an almost ideology rather than practical guidance. Tina Turner, explains things so much more eloquently than this phrase could ever do.

"Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are unhappy with anything... whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out."

If you know anything about Tina Turner's life and her abusive relationship, this becomes so much more real. That's the thing when we talk about unlocking true potential, what we really mean is shed all the stuff in our lives that holds us back. I can't remember anyone saying to me carrying that bad stuff makes me a better person and that inflicting suffering on ones self is a good thing. From someone who did carry that stuff around, it certainly wasn't pleasurable and it never once helped me. There's the challenge how do you do that, shed stuff to, "free creativity and your true self". The bible gives real practical guidance;

Repent, then turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.(Acts 3:19)
With the promise of God's Grace, a sense of being released and a freedom through Jesus Christ, that's without self-imposed limits because our Lord defines them; He knows us and created us.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Clearing the Road

Watching kids learning to walk is a painful process sometimes for both parties. If you think about it, they let go of one hand stagger for a bit and then fall over. They pull themselves up and stagger a little more and fall right on the floor again. They pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start again. Eventually (fast forward in time), after lots of falling over they manage to walk to the other side and grab hold of the awaiting hand. In between all of this we supply the words or noises of encouragement. 

Once they get good at walking they apparently want to get faster at moving; three miles per hour isn't enough. So driving lessons arrive. I remember my first and thinking "two feet, three peddles; how does that work then? I have to change gear, indicate, turn the steering wheel and check my mirrors? Funny it looked so much easier when I watched my Dad driving. Eventually and after a few tests the British Government felt I was safe to be let loose on the roads by myself. I always remember my Dad saying, "now you have passed your test, this is when you learn to drive." And he was right I have never stopped learning and not just driving.

I read an article on http://westwacc.blogspot.com called "Examine ourselves" and this just stood out,

"'Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.....' is not so much about are you or are you not a Christian as it is about are you living, acting, speaking and developing as a Christian, becoming mature rather than remaining an infant" 

When handing my life over to God through Jesus Christ I just didn't expect this road ahead. Being born again and learning to be a Christian is like learning to walk and as painful. It's not just the learning through the bible and discussions with fellow Christians. It's 'doing' what I have learnt from God's word and living the life Jesus has shown us, unfortunately I fall short in so many ways. But any great journey is a process of learning and doing with excitement and curiosity. The Bible has lots of accounts of them.  You might think I am not enjoying my life anew I am. Just can't describe how free I feel and how becoming a Christian has saved my life. Looking at the road behind me is encouraging but looking at the journey in front is daunting, can't wait until I get my keys though. A verse which was in one of my Baptism cards helps me through the really difficult times and encourages me to keep moving forward, Proverbs 3:6: 

"Always let Him lead you, and He will clear the road for you to follow."

Beautiful Things - The Michael Gungor Band  a great tune for the journey.

I pray  for anyone who is travelling this journey and for anyone who has stopped on this road in becoming closer to our Lord through Jesus Christ and developing as a Christian.


Friday, 20 August 2010

From somewhere?

This came from somewhere in the back of my mind. Does anyone know where it is from or who wrote it, could you let me know?

Some people read but never understand
Some people hear but never listen to the words
Some people stand but are never tall
Some people are small but are giants among crowds
Some people sit but never rest
Some people are scared to do what is next.......



Breaking barriers

I have been listening to a track called Breaking Dividing Walls, Vineyard which started me thinking about the way my life has changed recently. 

Relationships, can't live with them, can't live without them. Actually I tended to live without them. Don't get me wrong there were people in my life. I just had a really good defence mechanism to protect myself from hurt and pain which kept them away.  Occasionally, someone would slip through the net and I might let them in a little closer, that was until, in my head I had a reason not to trust them. I actually spent a lot of energy and time finding reasons why I should put the barriers up and push them all away. Ultimately no one really got too close. Really sad thinking about it now.

The thing is, now life has changed and for the better. I am not trying to say that everything is fixed, it's far from that. I have just noticed that certain relationship are deeper, more meaningful and built on mutual respect, than they were before. I'm sat with people enjoying their company and wanting to be around them. There is no defence mechanism in place and the good old ego takes a rest (well for part of the time). 

Words can't describe what it was like to be with people and yet not be with them. Praise the Lord through Jesus Christ for His forgiveness and setting us free to live the life He wants for us all.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

What a waste of time

This week I have only just realised, what a waste of time worrying is. It actually takes so much effort and energy that nothing of any use gets done. I discovered a word recently and absolutely love it "time-poor", and in reality we could all do with a few more extra hours in our lives. How much time do we spend worrying? Wish that I could report back with, "no worrying done this week", unfortunately that's not possible. Instead, the time I spent not worrying I put to great use.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV), lights a bulb in my head every time I read the words. I want to get better at putting them in my life and be what Jesus our Lord wants for us all.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Trust and kindness

I have been reading Acts 27, about the start of the journey Paul makes on a ship to Rome with other prisoners, under guard by a centurion called Julius. They are faced with severe storms, near desertion by the crew, no food for 14 days due to the stress and finally being ship wrecked.

What really stands out for me and has been muling over my mind for a few days now is Acts 27:3 "Julius, in kindness to Paul allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for him." Later on during their travels in Acts 27:42, to prevent prisoners escaping when they were shipped wrecked, the soldiers had planned to kill them including Paul (should a prisioner escape, the guard would face disciplinary and certain dismissal by death). Yet Julius the Centurion intervened and prevented this terminal plan and trusted that the prisoners would not escape.

Now you could rightly argue that the centurion didn't show either kindness or trust because they were his prisoners and some were likely to face death when they reached Rome. Only one act could show him in any good light and that would be to free them all. Whatever your stance is, he certainly went against his training and his superiors, risking paying the ultimate price. And this is were I have been challenged and have had to face up to my trust issues (I am very fortunate that death is not a punishment I face). I am left with two questions, would it be an act of kindness to trust someone? And did Julius show kindness by trusting that the prisoners would not escape, preventing the soldiers from carrying out their plan and allowing Paul to go to his friends even though he was a captive?

I don't know about you, but aren't you intrigued after reading Acts 27 to know what happened to Julius, did Jesus our Lord come knocking at his door?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

More Saturday morning reading

A humourous story with a great message by an unknown author. If it's you please let me know.

  
How to Get Into Heaven

A man dies and meets Peter at the Pearly Gates. Peter says to the man, "Here's how it works. You need to have one hundred points to get into heaven. You tell me about all the good things you've done. They are all worth a certain number of points. If your total is one hundred or more, you can come in."

"Well," says the man. "I was happily married to the same woman for 52 years. I never looked at another woman. I was attentive and loved her dearly."

"That's great," says Peter. "That'll be two points."

"Hmmm," says the man. "This is going to be harder than I thought. Well, I attended church regularly, volunteered my time and tithed faithfully."

"Wonderful," says Peter, "That's worth another point."

"One point!" says the man. "Okay, okay. I was involved with a prison ministry for twenty-five years. I went into the prison, at least monthly, and shared Jesus with them."

"Wow!" says Peter. "That's another two points!"

"Only two points!" says the man. "At this rate, it'll be only by the grace of our Lord that I'll ever get into this place."

"Bingo!" says Peter. "That's one hundred points! Come on in."

                                                                                                                               

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

The Alpha Course

Churches will soon be running various courses for people interested in finding out more about Christianity from a multi-denominational perspective, The Alpha Course.

The Alpha Course holds a really special place for me, that's where everything started. If I hadn't received a phone call inviting me to attend, I would still be pretty much wandering aimlessly through life.

I remember the first introductory meeting. Before arriving I was a little nervous, in fact I was going to pull out of going altogether, but I didn't. Everyone there was very welcoming and genuinely interested in who I was. The food we ate was amazing and I have to say a bonus point. Seriously, it made things really relaxed and was a chance to discuss anything and everything, very soon we all became great friends.

Each week the course was facilitated by a leader who was respectful, understanding and genuinely cared about the people who were there. They did not shy away from the real issues, all areas of Christianity were up for debate. We watched videos presented by Nicky Gumble from the Holy Trinity Brompton Church, London, which covered Christianity with an entertaining approach. We had some brilliant discussions in a very supportive environment and a few laughs.

Part way through the 10 week course we went off for the day. A chance to really bond as a group and explore Christianity at a deeper level. We had a guest speaker who engaged us and explained the Holy Trinity in a way that even I understood.

I am not going to say that you should go to an Alpha Course, but what I will say is that it changed my life. Alpha courses are run by various churches in the UK and the World. Whilst I know you will have some of your questions answered, I can't guarantee you will have the same great food that we did. After all, we had the best Chef in the World :o)

The links below will help you find out more about Alpha. West Auckland Community Church ran the course I attended and have included their link for information. If you would like to contact me direct to find out more about my experiences of Alpha then click on the contact me link.


Further Information

Alpha courses
Alpha friends
Contact me

On time

I was reading a post from westwacc.blogspot.com called Jesus will 'land in force'. After reading this the first thing that came into my head was, "get in I'm in time" and I would agree with you slightly 'self-survivalist', but being a new Christian absolutely what I thought in that split second.

Then a weight of responsibility came over me, about living life how Jesus wants us to and being aware that when we stray from Him the impact this can have over other people. An important discussion we had in the Discipleship course was about being aware of what we do, say and behave and how this can influence how Christianity is perceived, this a real challenge for me. I would be absolutely gutted if I prevented someone making a choice to invite God into their lives based on the way I behaved. I know this is a fairly simplistic view point and these issues are complex, but ultimately I believe each and every Christian can influence Christianities reputation.

I pray to our Father through Jesus Christ for wisdom and guidance to live according to His Son and that the way I behave is how He wants Christians to be seen.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The faith of a woman

In house group tonight we studied Mark 5:25-34. Basically it's about a woman who had a medical condition that she had spent lots of money and visited many doctors over 12 years to find a cure, but  realised that she was getting worse. Having heard about the miracles of Jesus, thought that if only she could touch His clothes then she would be healed. Well, she did touch His clothes after fighting through the crowds of people and was healed. Jesus not knowing who this person was, went looking for her and when found said, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."

I'm not sure about you, but if that was me after 12 years of seeing doctors, spending every single penny I had and faced with disappointment after disappointment; I would have pretty much resigned myself to not finding a cure. Yet this woman was still convinced it was possible. So she sees Jesus surrounded by crowds of people. Bearing in mind I had given up on being healed (unlike the woman) the crowds would have put me right off. I would be saying something like, "What's the point, there's no way I am going to be able to get past the crowds, I'm going home. Anyway, the doctors couldn't cure me He probably wouldn't have been able to either." But she wasn't put off at all and knew that once she touched Jesus' clothing she would be healed. 

This woman had faith which healed and freed her from suffering. How much do we allow ourselves to suffer in life and I include myself in this? Is it because we are waiting for something to happen like a massive neon light from God telling us what to do next, not realising that the Lord through Jesus Christ has everything prepared and waiting. We just need to put things into action, just like the faith of a woman. 

"inactivity is caused by apathy, the enemy of faith. Easily happens if faith is seen as 'knowledge about' & not 'active trust in'.", @wacc07


Saturday, 31 July 2010

Saturday morning reading

Two humourous stories with very interesting messages. Unfortunately I don't know who the original authors are, so if it's you please let me know. Hope you enjoy reading them...

Remarkable Parrot
Three sons left home and went out on their own and prospered. They discussed the gifts they were able to give their elderly mother. The first said: "I built a big house for our mother." The second said: "I sent her a Mercedes with a driver."

The third said: "You remember how our mother enjoys reading the Bible. Now she can't see very well. So I sent her a remarkable parrot that recites the entire Bible. It took elders in the church 12 years to teach him. Mama just has to name the chapter and verse and the parrot recites it."

Soon thereafter, their mother sent out her letters of thanks. "Milton," she said, "the house you built is so huge. I live only in one room, but I have to clean the whole house. "Gerald," she said, "I am too old to travel. I stay most of the time at home so I rarely use the Mercedes. And that driver is so rude! He's a pain!"

"But Donald," she said, "the little chicken you sent was delicious!"


The Army of the Lord
A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always does to shake hands. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said to him, "You need to join the Army of the Lord!"

My friend replied, "I'm already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor." Pastor questioned, "How come I don't "see you except at Christmas and Easter?" He whispered back, "I'm in the secret service."

Friday, 30 July 2010

Does anyone have any heavy duty refuse sacks?

I was reading a post called Bring in the new, throw out the old from the WACC blog, which discussed 2 Kings 22-23, about King Josiah and his people not doing what God had intended. After Josiah renews the Covenant with our Lord, I am inspired to see all the busyness that follows.


After King Josiah renewed the Covenant with God and made a decision to be obedient, various 'getting rid' activities followed. Unfortunately in our culture obedience has a 'negative press' and brings up thoughts of  negative control, pain, suffering and forced loyalties. That's not surprising when you see everyday in the news the effect of oppression. That's exactly how I viewed things, for me now being obedient To God through Jesus our Lord is a choice and to bow down and praise Him, it's empowering and stuff gets done. Our Creator knows what's best for us, He knows us from inside out, upside down and left to right.


Recently, I had a realisation that certain belongings reminded me of some not necessarily positive attributes of my old self, so I decided to get rid of them. I invested in heavy duty bin bags from my local DIY shop. With great intent each bag was filled with the items and then ventured to my local refuse collection point. Now let me tell you at the time, it wasn't an easy decision to make,  I just knew that stuff should go. Throwing the sacks into the skip became a huge release and actually very energising. I now have a massive hole to fill, but this is being filled by things which God had intended for me. Obedience with our Lord through Jesus Christ gives hope and opens up the possibilities and new ways.



Thursday, 29 July 2010

Unsubscribe and stop receiving the benefits

Do you ever get a sense of something driving you, moving you further forward in life? Yet something else is holding you back a fear of not wanting to stand out from the crowd or group.

It's almost as if we are fully paid up members to groups which have a consensus of opinion and ways of behaving that if we don't conform to we risk not receiving the benefit of a perceived sense of security, a place to hide among the numbers and then left out in the cold. That is where the problem of being held back can start.

What if we don't agree with the consensus of opinion? Well, we can do absolutely nothing, nod in the appropriate places, smile and bury our real opinion deep in side, which causes its own difficulties. There is another way of course, we can stand up for what we believe and risk our membership not being renewed and all of the benefits being cancelled.

Ok, if circumstances change and you no longer agree to the terms and conditions of membership. Do you continue to subscribe to the ideas of the group and receive all of the benefits or do you terminate your subscription? This was a decision I made very recently. As a Christian no longer could I subscribe to the patterns of behaviour and opinions of a group. Romans 12:2 (NIV) has given reassurance and hope during major transistion in life where changes like this have and are being made, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Friday, 23 July 2010

Breakfast at...

Going to a breakfast meeting tomorrow, held in the church where I was baptised.

I remember the day when I discussed, and made the decision to be baptised with an elder from my church. It just felt like the right thing to do, I had repented for my sins and invited God into my life. Baptism was the very important next step. People who know me will say I like to reflect on things, decide the pros and cons, sleep on the matter, leave it a bit longer and then make a decision. When it came to being baptised I just knew, call it an urge, a very serious one, I just knew straight away. When the date had been set someone pointed out that this was Pentecost.

As a new Christian I really had no idea what that meant and the significance. Pentecost, a festival that celebrates on the day of Jewish Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit on to the disciples after the death, resurrection  and ascension of Jesus our Lord. What must that day have been like for the disciples? Acts 2:1-13 describes this amazing day. 

As the baptism drew closer I started to think about the really practical side of things and important issues like, would the water be warm enough, would  it be easy getting into the pool, is there a chance I could drowned and what will people think. Firstly let me reassure you that the water was lovely and warm, I got into the pool and without a diving board and I am still here to tell you about the experience. Friends and family were there and that was really important to me for them to see my faith to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As far as what people think, I just want them to know I am a Christian, a child of God.

Matthew 3:11-16 (NIV) may help if you are contemplating baptism;

"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear his threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

To a patient man...

To a very patient man and the person who has taught me more than they could ever know. Praise God for them and their guidance on the right road.


Jesus Came and Lived Among Us - Don Francisco

Sunday, 18 July 2010

His words... Psalm 103

I wanted to share Psalm 103 and Cielo by Paul Wickham (we listened- he did not perform at our church, (o: ), from our worship on Sunday 18 July 2010...

Psalm 103 (The Message)


1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I'll bless his holy name!
   O my soul, bless God,
      don't forget a single blessing!

 3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
      He heals your diseases—every one.
      He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
      He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
      He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
      He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.

 6-18 God makes everything come out right;
      he puts victims back on their feet.
   He showed Moses how he went about his work,
      opened up his plans to all Israel.
   God is sheer mercy and grace;
      not easily angered, he's rich in love.
   He doesn't endlessly nag and scold,
      nor hold grudges forever.
   He doesn't treat us as our sins deserve,
      nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
   As high as heaven is over the earth,
      so strong is his love to those who fear him.
   And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
      he has separated us from our sins.
   As parents feel for their children,
      God feels for those who fear him.
   He knows us inside and out,
      keeps in mind that we're made of mud.
   Men and women don't live very long;
      like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
   But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
      leaving nothing to show they were here.
   God's love, though, is ever and always,
      eternally present to all who fear him,
   Making everything right for them and their children
      as they follow his Covenant ways
      and remember to do whatever he said.

 19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
      he rules over us all. He's the King!
   So bless God, you angels,
      ready and able to fly at his bidding,
      quick to hear and do what he says.
   Bless God, all you armies of angels,
      alert to respond to whatever he wills.
   Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
      everything and everyone made by God.
   And you, O my soul, bless God!

Listen to the sermons @ West Auckland Community Church

Saturday, 17 July 2010

From Pokemon to prayer via Fraser Campbell

My Son (age 9) and me were really debating some of life's affecting issues today. Like how many Pokemon characters had I heard of and how many footballers could I name from the Premier League?  Between talking about Turtwig and Fraser Campbell the later is a footballer and the other a type of bread or a Pokemon (can't remember), we discussed faith. I asked my son what he thought prayer was and just didn't expect this response.
"Dad, you can tell God anything, any time, any place, anywhere and any day."   
And that started the brain cells sparking. My thoughts were so much about prayer, especially as I write this, tomorrow is Sunday, when Christians will get together to pray to and worship our Lord. Romans 8:26-27, gives great reassurance during this time, especially when the words won't come but the heart knows, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.".

Amen

Time out and a Saturday morning read...

Here is a joke that could cause offence, you may want to close your eyes now! If that got your attention, enjoy the message and the relevance of 1 John 1:5-9 (NIV).  

One day God was looking down to Earth and saw all of the evil that was going on. He decided to send an angel to check it out so He called on a female angel and sent her for a time. When she returned she told God, "yes it is bad on Earth, 95% is bad and 5% is good. "Well, He thought for a moment and said maybe I had better send down a male angel. To get both points of view. So God called a male angel and sent him to Earth for a time. When the male angel returned he went to God and told Him yes Earth was in decline, 95% was bad and 5% was good. God said this was not good. He would send a letter to the 5% that were good and encourage them, something to help them keep going. Do you know what that letter said? Oh, you didn't get one either :o)
1 John 1:5-9 (NIV), "This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives."

Thursday, 15 July 2010

The s word

Not sure why, but I am finding it really difficult to write this post titled "The s word". I was going to start by describing my past experiences of talking about the s word with Christians as a non-believer and how I always ended up trying to justify why deep down I really was a good person but that doesn't do it.

I was going to write about the symptoms of the s word and  its weight on my shoulders. I was going to discuss all of the indiscretions that had mounted up through my life but again that doesn't do it. I was going to mention how I would always justify my faults by either blaming others or burying them deep inside and how sometimes I hid guilt in a very dark place in my mind, but that doesn't do it either. Of course I could divulge all of the selfish acts that I committed and how I had the arrogance to think that I was doing a great job of my life, on my own, that doesn't do it. 

I wanted to tell you about the s word in a really clever way that would make you feel comfortable about the word, yet challenge your thinking so that you would get it, that just doesn't do it. You see the s word is sin and sin is what prevents us from having a relationship with God, that does it. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit." 1 Peter 3:18 (NIV).

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I'm sorry...are you?

In the world right now  someone, somewhere is apologising. You know how it goes, "I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that" or "I am sorry for doing that" or "Alright, I am sorry" and so on. Then after sorry comes disappointment after the expected gratitude is not returned.

About 2000 years ago Jesus The Son of God did something so unbelievable, something so selfless and with absolute Love, it changed the world; so that we can have a relationship with God. And let me tell you that relationship with God is indescribable and without limits. What would it be like to be able to walk around in the world knowing that you are free of your 'chain and ball' from the past and living in the light of God and all because of an unbelievable act on the cross by Jesus our Lord.

There is a different kind of sorry conversation to have with God of repentance and forgiveness. Which thanks God for the selfless act of His Son Jesus who changed the world, sorry for not living in the light of God how He intended and an invitation for God to be in our life . It will be the best sorry you can ever make and in return you will receive so much more, God's Grace. What if disappointment turned to joy? "Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we're a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans He took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.." Ephesians 1:7 (The Message), sums it all up, 

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Have you got that Monday morning feeling?

You know that knot which starts in the stomach. That dreaded feeling of having to return to work after the weekend. The thought and worry of all that you need to do without self worth at the end. Its that Monday morning feeling that comes with the 'rat-race'.

As sure as day follows night and Eastenders ends with a "duff duff" there is still Mondays for Christians. Its just that we have handed our lives over to Jesus our Lord who want's so much more for us. God with infinite power, no beginning, no middle and no end. Our Creator planning our lives and leading us as we follow Him with obedience. I'm just in awe of that. Knowing that, how could there possibly be that Monday morning feeling?

As a New Christian God's message really puts things into perspective and gives a nudge at a deeper level and Matthew 7:25-27 has those very words.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

related article
Everything belongs to God - even the place that you work!


Saturday, 10 July 2010

Marmite, a piece of toast and Church

Munching on my piece of toast and Marmite, I am reminded of the mixed opinions people have about it. Either you love the stuff or you hate it. There are Facebook pages set up on the subject. As I write this, Marmite are running a marketing campaign on their website. You decide if you are a Perfect Pete who apparently likes the stuff or a Horrid Henry who thinks it's horrible. I reckon that Marmite is one of the very few subjects that provokes such extreme opinions, of course Church can also be added to this exclusive list.

My opinion about Church has moved from one side of the coin to the other and back again, depending on my experience at the time or whether I was dragged there screaming. It is only recently that Church has become so much more and that is thanks to our Awesome God for guiding me. You see, I actually get excited going to Church it's an absolute feeling of elation. I am going to a place where my Christian Brothers and Sisters worship our Lord for His Grace. Let me tell you sometimes I do go to Church with a heavy heart and what a place to be, to commune with the Lord and repent for my sins. That heart some how feels lighter when I leave and I praise the Lord.

I have also been in a position in my past, when on a Sunday morning that extra two hours in bed seemed important and unfortunately for me Church never really entered my head.  Luke 11:10 (NIV) may help as you contemplate Church, "For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

I prayer that you find your Church.

Living in the moment

As a new Christian I struggle with living in the moment, going where the Holy Spirit leads me, and being obedient to God's guidance through life, because confusion and uncertainty take over. It's as if the old self is trying to take back control through misdirection and creating a belief that the old way is better.

Living in the moment is about letting go to God's Grace because He really wants so much more for our lives than we ever do and all because of His Love for us. Praying in that moment of confusion and uncertainty creates focus and builds the relationship we have with our Father. When you find yourself being misguided by your old self, just talk to our Father.


"May the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV)