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