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.".


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)

Friday, 9 July 2010

My Story

I certainly did not go looking for God and I consider myself to be fairly 'normal', well as normal as the next man. If you said to me at the beginning of the year I am going to be a Christian I would have just laughed in your face. It's been a crazy year. This is my story, experience and thoughts on how I became a Christian. 

Can't say I have had a terrible life, it's just that I've never treated myself with too much respect. Always making the wrong choices sometimes because it was easy and other times because I didn't really know. Carried lots of guilt for the way I behaved and some pretty horrible feelings. Generally, wandering aimlessly through life without any direction. I was going downhill pretty fast.

Then things started to change. In January I received a phone call inviting me to attend an ALPHA course. Actually it was refreshing to speak to someone who spoke their mind and without the usual 'heirs and graces'. This started me thinking, "Christians are not as fluffy as I thought".

During the course, I met some great people and lets just say I experienced what it was like to change from the inside and the amazing realisation that Jesus really did die for us all and he really died to take away our sins. For me that meant so much. A man, a pretty special man without sin, carried on his shoulders all of our sins. He died on the cross to take away all those feelings that we carry around with us on our shoulders everyday. I even started going to church!

On one particular Sunday I experienced what it would be like to ride the emotional roller coaster, quite literally. I wept for no apparent reason, and even in front of my Dad! I have never really experienced feeling vulnerable, but I did then. That day I experienced every possible emotion. I remember being sat in my living room asking God for forgiveness, asking for His help and literally handing my life over to Him.

Surprisingly things just became worse, more tears and more emotions. I received a phone call from a Christian friend to see if I was OK, because I hadn't been to church that day. You got it, I burst into tears again. I was instantly invited to join them in Christian Fellowship. Plenty more tears followed and then I knew what to do. I asked my Christian brothers to prayer for me.

At that point, I genuinely felt a force pushing me to the ground. I couldn't stop laughing and felt this great sense of inner peace and comfort, I was filled by The Holy Spirit. The Lord certainly did not want me to get up. I think he wanted me to rest. You see I asked for my sins to be forgiven and they have been, and The Lord through The Holy Spirit is guiding my life. Through Jesus Christ a huge weight has been lifted. You see I am now free and I am without a chain. I was Baptised on Penticost and now there is "no looking back".

... my prayer is that we find the path that leads to our Lord through Jesus Christ.

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Act 2:38 (NIV)