This blog is supposed to be, as much as I can, my daily journey through life as a Christian. I hope it to be my thoughts and feelings on life but be as grounded in the Christian message as it can. My intention is not to create a daily readings or bible study guide but to look at my life in terms of a Christian trying to find and follow God's mission using his Life User's Manuel AKA the Bible.

Matthew 10 19-20

And don't you worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. - Matthew 10 19-20

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You can choose your friends....

The saying goes that you can choose your friends but not your family. This is mostly said by parents to disgruntled siblings after a fight along with the other famous one you have to love him/her he/she is your brother/sister/mother/father etc. The one I used to love most was a phrase most often used towards my elder brother in my youth which was "just because I love you doesn't mean I like you right now."

However I am not on another negative rant in this post. In fact what I have to say is quite positive. The thing is I have a fantastic friend, possibly my best friend. I can always rely on him to be there when I need, he always listens to me when I need to vent off steam and he understands me better than almost anyone else in the world. To say that I would struggle without this best friend is a little bit of an understatement. We are something of a pair of trouble makers when we are together, in the fun scally wag sense of the word and are always winding each other up and having a laugh.

The thing is that this best friend is none other than, my little brother. I say little, these days he is only an inch shorter than me and is a well built hockey player, however he still can not beat me in fun fights (although dirty tactics are necessary). I am not sure why me and my little brother get on so well and are best friends when I at least struggle to even talk with my older brother. But I do know that because of the relationship I have with my little brother I always have someone in the family who will support my through anything and help me when I need. As someone who has had their fair share of run ins with family members it is nice to have someone to be able to talk to and not feel left out of the family.

I have struggled over the last couple of months to live at home since finishing uni and starting a new job and with my brother moving away for his first year at uni I have not had anyone to talk to. However next week he comes home for Christmas and we will have a good few weeks of fun and wind ups to enjoy before he goes back to uni in the new year.

What I am saying with this post is that I really appreciate having such a fantastic brother who is also my best friend. I am thankful that I have him and I hope that he feels the same way about me since I do try and be a good brother even though we wind each other up on purpose. God has seen fit to give me a family who challenges me and pushes me to be everything I can be. At times this causes tension and makes it difficult to always be in the best of moods. But he has also given me a brother who I know will always be there supporting me even when the rest of the family is stood at the by line calling me stupid.

The long dark tea-time of the soul

A few people who know me in the real world will know that I am a huge fan of Douglas Adams and his work. The title of this post is the name of one of his books that I enjoyed a lot and would recommend everyone reads. However it is not about Douglas Adams or this book that I want to talk about, the reason I mention it is because the phrase sums up how I have been feeling lately.

I have talked in recent days about how I have been struggling to keep on top of my Bible study and prayer life and how this has affected my mood. And when I came to write this the title sprang to mind as a good description of the way I have been feeling.

Since discussing the plans that I feel are in my future with my family things have not been as easy as I would have hoped. Relationships with various members of my family have deteriorated and I feel a little like a fire fighter trying to put out a forest fire with a tiny water pistol. I know God will help me but over the last week or so I have seen a number of potential barriers looking like they are about to come down and make things very difficult for me to overcome. I know that I should not be doing this on my own and it is not my plan I am following, I just need to have faith and do what I know I should be doing.

In other news I will be running an advent challenge for myself in the run up to Christmas which I will be posting tomorrow. I will post all the details of the rules and tasks tomorrow, anyone who wants to follow or take part in it themselves feel free to do so and let me know how you are getting along with it if you do.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Well this morning I said I had set little time aside to do any Bible study recently. This afternoon I have done a small amount of Bible reading and have been reading about Jacob and his family. There is one family member who has stuck out significantly for me and he is Reuben.

This name has some family significance for me, being the name of my Godson which may be one of the reasons I picked up on him so much. But Reuben is an incredibly interesting character if you look closely at him. The eldest son of Jacob Reuben had responsibilities and rights above and over the other brothers. However in the Biblical texts Reuben never receives his birthright or blessing. Reuben's birthright is given to Joseph, the favourite, and other rights over the family are ceded to other brothers. Because of this the Kingship of Israel falls to the tribe of Judah and the priesthood to the tribe of Levi.

The reason for this is explained by the Bible as being due to an inappropriate relationship with Bilhah who was Rachel's maid and mother to Dan and Naphtali. In classic rabbinical law this is classed as incest and therefore Reuben was punished for it.

But it is not this that I really was interested in when reading about Reuben, it is his actions and behaviour during the sale of Joseph to the slave traders. It is Reuben who prevents the hot heads from having their way and murdering Joseph straight away and persuades them instead to throw him in the cistern to perish over time. This does not sound much better but the Bible however tells us that it was Reuben's plan to rescue Joseph and return him to their father later. For whatever reason Reuben was obviously not present when Joseph was sold as it is told that sometime later he returned to rescue Joseph and found him gone.

Now I am not sure how other people read this but the impression I get is that as an elder brother Reuben was not all that great. Not only does he fail to stand up for his younger brother he does not seem to have the respect of his siblings. The fact that they sold Joseph without him knowing, or that to "save" Joseph he had to plan a ruse suggests that he held little command as eldest.

The study Bible that I use suggests that Reuben lived tow different lives, his public life and a private life. It expands on the point by saying that Reuben was not able to stand by his convictions, he was not able to push for what he believed to be right. Christians have the tough position of having beliefs and convictions that at times are polar opposite it that of the rest of the world. We need to be able to stand up for our beliefs, we need to stand up for our convictions. It is not enough to just believe something to be true. If you truly believe it then you will stand up for it and make your voice heard even if it means putting yourself at risk.

Writers block

It is something that almost everyone who writes on a regular, or even irregular, basis experiences at some point. I am actually surprised I have managed to go so long without experiencing this to the extent that I can not think of anything to write for today. In fact it is so bad that it was not even me who thought of writing on writers block, it was an idea given to me by a friend to write on.

So far every time writing time has come round so far there has been something on my mind or there has been an inspiring event during the day. I think one of the reasons for this happening now is that I have hardly been out of the house since Thursday due to the extent of the snow that has fallen where I live. This has meant that I have spent the past few days talking with friends and family and watching an excessive amount of sci fi TV. And although talking to friends and family has been important and productive it has not been about things that have not already been covered on here.

Possibly the only thing that has happened over the last few days that has any bearing on this blog is the fact that I have not been spending enough time with God. There is not really any reason for this, I have had loads of time on my hands and been quite bored too. Yet I have not really spent the time to sit down and read my Bible or spend time in prayer. Like I said there is no real reason for this other than laziness.

Tomorrow I will be going back to work, weather permitting, and will hopefully be getting back into my routine. However I don't believe that God should just be part of my routine, it should be something I want to do, something so much a part of my life that the days my "routine" changes I still crave the time spent with God. I know I have a lot of growing to do with God, I know there is a lot I need to learn and discover. However one of the good things to come out of knowing this is that I have seen the problems and seen the changes that need to be made, with that I have the ability to make the changes I need to make to put my life right with God.

Maybe I didn't have that big of a writers block in the end. Maybe all I needed was something to start the writing process for the thoughts in my head to pour out on to my computer screen. Blogging is an important thing in my life at the moment, something I enjoy doing and have learnt a lot about myself from. Hopefully the inspirations will keep coming, even if no one ever reads this at least I am gaining something positive from this blog.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Google "William Booth"

So we are on to week 8 of the Soldiers Challenge and so far it is going really well. It has been something that I thought I would struggle with and something I would find very difficult to keep going. However that has not been the case, the tasks so far have not been to much of a challenge so far and the momentum is beginning to build so that when the more tasking challenges come round the impetus will be there to continue despite the difficulty.

So this weeks challenge was to google "William Booth", although this one is a fairly easy challenge to do it is a somewhat important challenge because William Booth is the founder of the organisation I am a part of. Knowing about the history of the organisation I am part of and knowing the principles that it is founded on is very important if I am wanting to go out in to the world and win souls for Jesus through this organisation. It has also fallen at an interesting point in my journey into learning about the Salvation Army because I have just finished reading a biography on William and Catherine Booth and the early Salvation Army and have just started reading the book Blood and Fire which is similar in scope to the book I have just finished but much grander in its execution.

So lets have some William Booth facts;

  1. William Booth was born on the 10th April 1829 in Sneinton in Nottingham.
  2. He was the only son of the 4 surviving children of Samuel and Mary Booth.
  3. William was apprenticed at 13 to a pawnbrokers.
  4. He married Catherine Mumford
  5. William had 8 children
  6. He died on the 20th August 1912 in London
These are facts that are easily found out about William Booth just by checking the internet on sites such as Wikipedia. However the most important fact is that William Booth was a God led minister who had a passion to save souls by any means necessary. Booth was determined to see people saved for God from the depths of sin and depravity. He saw the need of the poor and destitute in "Darkest England" and decided that something needed to be done.

It is not really possible to talk about the amazing work done by Booth that was carried on by The Salvation Army, the organisation be founded. But that is not what this post is about, this post is about encouraging myself and those who are reading it to go out there and discover the work of these Saints such as Booth and to think about how we can continue this work now and in the future. It may be that you are not a member of The Salvation Army and you are not hugely interested in it or its work, but my thought is that we should learn about whatever organisation or Church we are a part of. But also we should know what we can about other Christians and Christian organisations in the world and the work they are doing.

So next week we have a somewhat different task to do, a task that for me personally is going to be a little difficult to do. The challenge is to pray for your government leaders each day this week. There are two reasons that this will be difficult for me, the first is that although my prayer life is improving and growing day by day it is still something I have struggled to remember to do on a daily basis. The other reason is that I do not support or believe in the policies of the current government and find it difficult to support them when they seem to be so actively attacking everything I believe should be done to fix the problems we have. However this may be a good thing for me to do, to pray for the leaders to see sense over policy decisions and to try and prevent our society crumbling under our noses. Check back next week on the Soldiers Challenge tab and see how it goes and see what will be the task following that.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What Would Jesus Do

A number of years ago there was a bit of a craze of wearing wrist bands displaying messages for all sorts of different groups, movements and ideas. I personally had a number of them, ranging from the Livestrong bands to the full collection of Christian ones including the W.W.J.D. one.

For those who don't know what it stands for it is the phrase "What Would Jesus Do". It was the idea that by wearing this on your wrist you would be reminded to think always about what would Jesus do in this situation or position. How would He act if faced with this situation, how would He behave if confronted by the same circumstances.

I wore my W.W.J.D. band constantly for years never once taking it off. I personally do not think it changed a single decision I made or made me a better Christian. I was a young and naive person with only a surface faith and nothing more. I was of the opinion that if I wore an outward sign of being a Christian I would instantly become a better Christian.

Recently I have been thinking about it in a slightly different way, a way in which it was not meant to be thought in but a way that I think helps me more. I think not of what would Jesus do, but what would I have done in the past. I think about the decisions I would have made in the past and how that decision fits with my faith and the teachings in the Bible. It is then that I think about what Jesus would do and how that compares with what I decided.

It is not something that I find easy to do, deciding to follow someone's plans other than my own. I find it extremely difficult to say my own plans are not good enough, that someone other than myself is right.

One of the other wrist bands I used to wear was one that said F.R.O.G. which represented the phrase Fully Relying On God. This phrase and following what Jesus would do and wants to do in my life is the place  I am aiming for in my life. I have a long way to go and a lot to learn but I know that with help I will keep making progress in the right direction.


Today I am going to do my duty as a Godfather and take my little Godson out sledging. Over the last 2 nights we have had more snow than I have ever seen in my life, over 12 inches and counting with at least another 10 inches predicted. I know this may not sound like a lot to some people who live in areas used to snow but for an area that normally sees 12 inches in the depths of winter this is highly unusual.

Although we are not used to as much snow so early we are used to having snow and so in my family we have a tradition of sledging every year. I have been sledging every year since I was one and intend to carry on this tradition for as long as I can. 

My job as Godfather is one I take very seriously. I see my job as having a number of aspects to it. One of the main aspects of the job is to ensure my Godson has as much fun as I can manage, to ensure that he has as many good memories as possible. Another one is that I see that he does not miss out on any opportunity.

However as most of you will know the most important aspect of being a Godparent is that you ensure your Godchild learns about the grace, power and love of God. It is vital that we teach them about the sacrifice Jesus made for us and that our little ones are taught all of this from a young age.

As I said I am very serious about my job as a Godparent, all aspects of it. As someone who is more than slightly crazy I am more than qualified to ensure that my Godson has a huge amount of fun. But I also intend to see that my Godson is taught about God and Jesus from the very beginning. As someone who is very passionate about my faith and someone who intends to follow Gods plan in my life I want my Godson to know and love the same God as me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

For God is our refuge

Psalm 62:1-8 (NIV)
Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down-
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

I have no idea why this passage came to mind to me this evening, I sat down to decide what it was that I was going to write about and all that was in my head were the words Psalm Sixty-two. I didn't even know what the verse was until I looked it up. However when I looked it up this verse is the reminded me of one of my favourite songs I used to sing with the local youth choir.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be the name of the Lord Most High
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be the name of the Lord Most High

The name of the Lord is a strong tower
The righteous run into it and they are saved
The name of the Lord is a strong tower
The righteous run into it and they are saved

                                      (Clinton Utterbach)

This song is based on another Bible verse that says a similar thing to what Psalm 62 does. The verse that this song is based on is Proverbs 18:10 which is a powerful verse.

Proverbs 18:10
     The name of the LORD is a fortified tower;
     the righteous run to it and are safe.

This week has been quite hard for me, I have had very little time to get everything done and I have had some big conversations with close friends, family and Church members about some major decisions in my near and mid term future. However despite the fact that I have been feeling the pressure and been struggling to cope with things I have had a great sense of calm. Every time I have been feeling down or felt myself slipping in to a trough I have been boosted by something I have read or been told. I am sure that the reason that I have coped and been lifted is because I have been relying more on God than I have in the past. God is my refuge and my fortress, He is my strength and my shield and my protector in all things. 

A new creation

2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)  
    Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 

When I awoke this morning the Bible verse on my phone was the one above and as I was reading it a short song that we sing in my Church began to play in my head. It is a song that I have not sung in some time but one that actually has a strong meaning for me. This song is one that I can attest to, on ethat sums up my feelings about coming back to the Church better than I can myself.
I am a new creation
No more in condemnation
Here in the grace of God I stand
My heart is overflowing
My love just keeps on growing
Here in the grace of God I stand

And I will praise You Lord
Yes, I will praise You Lord
And I will sing of all that You have done

A joy that knows no limit
A lightness in my spirit
Here in the grace of God I stand

                  (Dave Bilbrough)

When we come to Christ and accept Him in to our lives. When we become part of Christ's Church we are cleaned of sin, washed of all the stains we carry and we become a new creation through Him. Any thing we were condemned from is stripped away and we are not made as new, but made wholly new by Him. As I am writing though another song from my childhood has been triggered and sums up the power of God in simple yet powerful words.

My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing that He cannot do.
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing that He cannot do.

The mountains are His, the rivers are His, the stars are His handiwork, too.
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing that He cannot do, for you!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More parallels

I know that I shouldn't be amazed by how God works but I always am. This morning I did two main things, first I read my daily Bible plan when I woke up and second I attended a meeting with my local Church leaders. I spent well over an hour discussing the future and my place in it and the ways of getting there. It was an amazing discussion that was enlightening for all three of us who were there.

The main point of the discussion was about how to get my family on board with the plans for my life and have some sort of support from them. We discussed ways to heal wounds that I have caused in the past and methods to persuade them that the plans I am following are the right ones for me.

So back to the beginning, what was the link here? Well the Bible verse and meeting were both about parents and the Bible verse is a surprising parallel to what was discussed in the meeting.

Proverbs 23:22 (NIV)
     Listen to your father who gave you life,
     and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Not only this but also in the meeting the Bible verse the ministers used to wrap up and end our meeting was also from Proverbs.

Proverbs 3 (NIV)
My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

Honour the LORD with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

I know I shouldn't be but I am always amazed when I see God working in my life, I hope that I will never lose that sense of wonder and amazement when seeing God's work.

It's like the wind

It’s like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.

A couple of nights ago I descended from the black hole that is my room to eat supper and found my Mum watching a film on TV. It didnt look that interesting and I wasn’t going to watch it but I was hungry and had my computer. So I settled down on the sofa with my bowl of coco pops and my net book and didn’t reaqlly pay that much attention to the TV. Not long after my Mum decided it was late and she should go to bed and left me in the lounge munching on a stack of snack foods and the TV playing away. Not being interested I didn’t bother to change the channel or switch off the TV and so it played away in the background.

Unusually I ended up following the film and actually began to get interested in it. The film was A Walk to Remember. Its not so much the film I want to talk about even though it is a film in which Christianity features quite a bit but the quote above. 

It struck me that this is an amazingly profound statement about God's love and faith. Because like the wind you can not see God's love but you can see the effects of it. You can not see the cause of either of them but you can see the results from their interactions with the world. Both can be so gentle and move small things in delicate ways. But equally both can be things of great power, great strength and ever huge destruction.

We have faith in a God who we can not see, we can not touch but believe in non the less. But just because we can not see Him directly does not mean that we can not see His work in the world and in our lives. We love and follow the God of Abraham and Jacob, the alpha and omega, the creator of the Universe. He has a power that we can not fully understand, a power that we can not comprehend. Whatever He is doing in your life do not think that is all He can do. He can provide you with everything you need when you ask and when you need.

God's love - It's like the wind, you can't see it but you can feel it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

First snow of the year

I love winter. I really really love winter. The dark nights, the cold weather, Christmas and the snow. As you might have guessed by the title of the post we have had the first snow of the winter here today. And although I love the snow there are a few problems that come with it. The biggest one is that everyone seems to panic and start to drive like complete idiots. This made my journey home from work three times longer than it normally is. This would normally make me feel quite frustrated and lead to me becoming quite angry and possibly losing my temper with my fellow road users.

However despite the negative issues that come with winter and the weather that it brings as I said earlier I love winter. The reason for this is that during the winter there is so much goes on and I have so much to do that I love doing it has become the season I link with happiness. I spend a huge amount of time during December carol playing which I enjoy. This is also the time of year that I get to spend the most time with my family and see my extended family too.

So although tonight was a bad time for my commute home it has heralded the beginning of my favourite season of the year. And I have not forgotten the importance of this time of year either. I know that the birth of our Lord and Saviour is a fantastic time and we really should remember, celebrate and enjoy this time.

Christmas is a great gift to every single Christian. But it is not the most important one and there is a greater gift we should always bear in mind even during this time of fun and frivolity. We should always remember the gift of the cross, the gift of eternal life Jesus gave us when He died for us and all our sins. Yes winter time and Christmas should be a time of celebration and we should rejoice in the birth of Jesus, however take some time out in this busy season to remember what it all about remember that that little baby so innocent and pure ended up on a cross that was so rough and cruel. Christmas is only important because of Easter.

Self control

People who know me well would probably tell you that I am often one to do things on a whim. I live on my ability to do things randomly with little to no planning. I love the feeling of risk and the sense of freedom that I get from just doing things as and when I think of them. Almost everything I have ever done in the past has been at random and with little or no planning.

This does however have some negative results at times which in the past I have just ignored and moved on from. Recently these have not so much caught up with me as I have begun to face and tackle them. I have begun to attempt to fix the issues I have with my family and friends and although it is going to be a long road I know that I will be able to sort those problems out.

One issue of this characteristic of my personality that I still need to work on is my self control. I often lack the self control to be able to stop myself doing something crazy or stupid. Many times I find myself standing in a mess thinking to myself, why did you do that?

This morning in my daily devotions there was a short verse from 2 Timothy that struck a cord with me on this subject.

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
     For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

This prompted me to think of this in a way that I never have before, this is not an issue that I need to tackle on my own. It is not something that is just about me. God will give me everything I need if I only ask.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One of those days

A friend of mine often asks me how my day at work has been and it is becoming a bit of a personal joke between us that my reply is always, "Ah it's just been one of those days." The thing is at work my life always does seem to be one of those days. I stumble from disaster to disaster cleaning up after people, fixing their problems and helping them plan how to rebuild their lives.

Some days this really takes it out of me and others leave me feeling good due to a job well done. Today however was one of those days, and not for a good reason. There is one person who I have been working with as part of my job to try and get him off his substance abuse, into full time employment and help reconcile with his family. Not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination but one that we seemed to be working towards.

However the last week for whatever reasons he has slipped back in to old habits and begun to live the old lifestyle he once had. But this is something we are all susceptible to, something that it is all to easy for us to find ourselves doing. It may not be substance abuse or anything near as damaging but we all have times when we slip back into the old way of doing things, our old negative habits.

As Christians we have a covenant with God through His son Jesus. Jesus left us commands to follow and showed us how to live life by his example. There is a way we are supposed to live and we all try to follow it as best we can. However I am sure everyone else is likely to find things the way I do. No matter how hard I try, no matter how good my intentions are I often find myself in situations and doing things I shouldn't be. I find that I have begun to do things as I used to, things that were second nature but that I gave up due to their negative impact on my life.

However as I told my client this evening, tomorrow is another day, a fresh day, a new day. This means we can have a new start tomorrow, a new beginning from scratch. We can see the places we went wrong, we know what it is we need to fix, lets start from there and see how far we can get. As Christians we have one major advantage on our side, we have His help.

New toy

This weekend past I bought myself a lovely new toy, a lovely little net book computer. Yes it is a little flashy and yes it is an expense that I don't really need to splash out on. But there is a reason and method behind the madness. Having this new net book servers a triple purpose, the first it allows me to be able to write and blog more regularly when I am fleeting about the country visiting people. The other two are slightly more long term, having this will allow me to keep in contact with family and continue to blog when I move abroad next year.

Some people may feel that to splash out on such a device when I currently earn so little and need to save up so much is frivolous. But this purchase is the last thing I require for going away, everything I will need for moving away and living away for a year is now available to me, except the funding. I know I have a lot to do still to prepare for Canada in a mental, spiritual and financial context but the plans for them is ongoing an in process of being done. At least there is one list of things that can be ticked off and need not be thought about so much. Hopefully the other plans can come together as nicely and quickly, but only He knows what the future holds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Repairing past damage

Tonight I made some good progress towards healing some of the wounds that I caused by living the way I did in the past. In the past I have somewhat ignored my family and acted in ways which have caused friction and bad feelings between me and my family.

The member of my family who I probably have the worst relationship with is my older brother who in some sense I have probably treat the worst at times. We have never had the greatest communication between us but over recent years it has suffered due to my actions.

However tonight I went to have dinner with my brother and his wife for the reasons of talking things over about the plans for my future. There were a number of reasons for this, mainly because having him onside will make winning my parents over to the plans a lot easier but also because keeping him in the loop goes some way to making him feel included which helps the relationship we have.

Coming away after the meal I felt much happier and had a much better plan in my mind of the way to go about things in order to win over my family to supporting the plans for my future. However I was reminded of a verse a friend gave me last night to think and pray over. I'll leave you with the verse as I finish this post and will keep you updated as the plans progress.

Mark 6:1-6 (NIV)
     Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
     “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
     Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Some mornings you just wish would go away

Well today I woke up and just wanted to turn back over and go straight back to bed. And I have to own up to doing that to a certain degree. The fact that I have somewhat flexible working hours meant that I was able to give in to my temptation and roll back over to sleep.

I was thinking about this later on and was thinking that this can sometimes be the way we react to our faith. We are often guilty of this in our Christian life, we assume that we have a plenty of time to do everything we need to do. We think that we will have loads of time to commit to God, loads of time to follow his commands and plans for our lives.

Many times we just give on what we are doing reasoning that we can do it when it is easier for us or when we have more time for it. We are guilty in a Christian sense of just rolling over and going back to sleep because we just can't face another day carrying our cross.

The solution in this is that when we feel like this the reason is that we are relying on ourselves to do it all. We need to learn that our strength comes from Him, that he is the source and provider of everything we need. On the days when we feel like just curling up and hiding from the world we need to pray to God for strength and the ability to go out into the world. When we accept that we are not the  ones in control or in power we begin to understand how to allow God into our lives. When we give our lives over to God we can then accept that God has total power in our lives. This means that He will give us what we need to complete each day, what we need to go out into the world and do what we were sent to do. Thank God for that.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Attend a service of rememberance

This post is part of a two year challenge to do a different challenge each week for 2 years, so far we are on to week 7 and doing well. If you are interested in reading the past challenges please check this link for the Soldier's Challenge or check the same tab above.

So this week the challenge was selected by me again instead of choosing it from the hat, the reason for this was that last weekend was Armistice Day and the Church I attend was to be part of the Remembrance Parade. The brass band from my Church was to lead the parade down our town's main street and provide the music for the service while at the cenotaph in the town centre. This was the first time in over 6 years that I had been a part of this event due to my leaving the Church and not being home during November for many years.

This year was a pretty special year as it was one of the biggest parades that has ever set out from our Church and there was a sense of both excitement and a sombreness too. It sounds a strange combination but the event was a huge public event for our town such as has not happened for a large number of years. The excitement came from the many people and children taking part in the march for the first time eager to take part and do well. The sombreness obviously came from the sad nature of the event and the many people there and whol live in the town who are directly linked to the armed forces.

The service itself was a respectful and fitting tribute to servicemen past and present giving them the respect and thanks that they deserve. It was also a tribute to those cadets who were present for the service and commitment they may make in the future if and when they follow through in to the full armed forces.

As far as challenges go it was an easy one to do, but it was one I was glad to have. Because it was part of my challenge I made sure I paid my full attention the whole way through. Often when playing in these kind of events there is much that needs to be done such as finding music and other housekeeping tasks from being part of the band. However because of the help from my older brother with music and coordinating me successfully I was able to take part in the event and pay attention to everything that was going on. So for this I want to thank my brother, who fittingly has been the first person to help or assist me in one of my challenges, I have no doubt I will be helped and assisted in challenges in the future and I will acknowledge all of them as and when they help.

So this week I am back to pulling the next challenge out of my hat and so I am not in control of which task I get week to week. The challenge that has been pulled from the hat this week is Google "William Booth". Another easy one to do but rather than just googling Booth's name I will spend at least an hour this week researching Booth. Feel free to check back daily to read the regular posts and please visit next Sunday to see how I do and what the next task may be.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christmas shopping

Today I went Christmas shopping for my Godson, and as usual I spent a bit more than I should have done. But it is something that will bring much happiness to him and hopefully his parents, or at least give them some peace. When I was shopping there was so many toys and other things that I saw that I would have loved to have bought for him but he is not old enough yet to play with them safely.

Now this little boy is more important to me than almost anything else in the world, I would do anything for him(except to change his dirty nappies) and love playing with him and watching him develop and grow. As someone who does not do well around kids and does not normally find himself comfortable around them this is a new experience. But anything he needs, anything he wants I will do everything I can to make sure he gets it.

Now if this is something I can do for my Godson, how much more will God do for us as his children.

Luke 11:11-13
     "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

The feelings we have for our own children and family are nothing compared to what God feels towards us. There literally is nothing God will not do for us, nothing God would not give to us if we need it. He is a fantastic and amazingly generous God, He loves each one of us as His children and will treat us as such.

Acts 2:42

Acts 2:42
     They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal and the prayers.

Yesterday I mentioned that I have a passion for advocating the return to basics of Christians to constant prayer and frequent Bible study. Another thing I feel that Christians should do is follow the examples and methods of the early church.

Acts 2:47
     As they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

There is no reason why we can not see conversions in the numbers that the early Church saw, we just need to go about things in the right way. We need to live our lives daily for God, we need to shine our lights as bright as we can day after day. We also need to provide support for those who are new converts as they grow in their knowledge of Christ. Nurture these young children of God as they grow bolder and more knowledgeable. When we live together sharing our lives with God and each other we become a strong united body in Christ as He wanted us to be. Through our unity in Christ we can do amazing things, without it we are doomed to fail. Which category of Church do you fall into, are you part of a healthy vibrant outgoing Church that is growing or are you a member of a dying Christian community? We all know how to make it work, we have the Bible, our instruction manual, isn't it time we all followed it's commands?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part I)

So I went to see the new Harry Potter tonight with a friend and was somewhat disappointed. The company was fantastic and the film was quite good but the disappointment came because it did not follow the book, at least the way I remember it.

In the car driving home I had the thought that so often things depicted in films do not follow "the book". It is a common complaint about films that are based on books. Changes in the story line created a better film than book in the Bourne trilogy and did not really make a difference in Lord of the Rings. But these are exceptions, most of the time if you change the original story line you spoil what was there.

There is nothing so true as when you do this to the Bible. There are so many occurrences out there in the world past, present and sure to be future too where people have tried to change the message in the Bible. Sometimes it is for personal agendas, sometimes political reasons. Whatever the reason for it every time the Bible is "edited" in this way the enemy gains a foot hold. Every time the Bible is misused it can waylay people of faith and cause us to follow the wrong path.

We need to be vigilant that we do not allow the Bible to be misrepresented, rewritten or changed in anyway. We need to have a knowledge and understanding of the Word of God that comes from living our lives with the Bible. Yes this requires a big commitment, yes it will require a lot of work on our part. But living for the Lord is not part time, being a child of God is not something you can put on and off.

If we know the Bible well and live it in our day to day lives we will be able to see when it is being misrepresented. And at those times we can stand up and show the world what our God is really about. I know I mention this a lot but as a Christian there are two things I am passionate about and burning to share with others. This is constant prayer and regular Bible study. For me these two things are core to life as a Christian. I struggle often to fulfil these two points in my life, most days it is a battle to do them. But it is a fight that I take on with eagerness and with joy for I believe them to be the bedrock on which we should build our lives with God. And from this bedrock we can then live our lives as God intended.

Hero's and saints

As some of you may know I am currently on two Bible reading projects at the moment. To read the Street Bible and to read the whole Bible cover to cover. While reading through these I have reread many of the stories I was taught as a young child which had to a certain extent become no different to the fairy stories I heard.

The advantage of rereading them after so long and with the benefit of new experiences is that I am seeing them in a new way. As I am reading the stories I am seeing that these huge figures in the Bible such as Noah, Isaac and Jacob in the Old Testament through to people like Peter and Paul in the New Testament were in many ways far from perfect.

The stories we see in the Bible about these people are not about how great they were, how perfect they were or even how well they always served God. Because in many ways these people were highly flawed and did not always follow God's plans or even live in a way God would approve of. These stories are about God, His power and ability to work with any human despite our flawed nature. We learn time and again that there is nothing that we can do that will stop God from loving us or cause Him to abandon us.

I have no doubt that as I continue reading on through the Bible I will learn many many new things. There are new lessons in there even for someone who has read the Bible hundreds of times. All relationships are based on communication and one of the ways God has communicated with us is through this amazing book. Reading the Bible and spending time in prayer with God increases the communication between us and God and will only make our relationship stronger and more productive.

God gave us the Bible for a reason, it is His word to us and we should always remember that. Through it He gives us the messages and lessons we need to live our lives in the way that He wants us to live them. But in it He also tells us that no matter what He is always there for us. That no matter how bad we think that we are He can work with us and do amazing things through us. The Bible is the most amazing book and is personally written for you and for me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

God moves in ways even if they are not always mysterious

I had a great conversation with my sister in law today. She is a fantastic person who fits into our family amazingly well and is every bit the big sister I never had. She is one of the few people in the family who I can talk to about life especially my faith with openly.

Today she approached me about something that has been on my mind a lot but that I have been to wrapped up with other thing to be able to sort out. And as I have learned frequently over the last 18+ months, if God wants something done He will shout and scream at you if He has to to get it done.

The thing is a regular Bible study group for our Church. But an age specific group of those who are mid twenties to mid thirties age range. The age range we are in and would be comfortable talking about things with. It is something that I have been craving for since I moved home but been unable to do anything about due to various things getting in the way.

This is something that the Church I attend desperately needs, something that it has needed for years. And now hopefully there will be something done about it soon. Having been part of a fantastic and very successful group while at university we have had a fantastic discussion about how we can possibly go about organising it and how it will work best. It is very much still in the planning stages but I know we can have this up and running as soon as it is time for it.

Someone told me not long ago that there were exciting times coming up for me. I thought that they were meaning in the future with my plans to go to Canada and work there before following God's plan for me. However it looks as if my life at home is about to become a lot more interesting and hopefully bearable. I am amazed at the things God does in my life, I hope I will always be open to following Him in everything He wants me to do.


A number of years ago at my home Church there was a controversy. Exactly what it was is not important except that the minister was involved. This minister had come in to our Church and done some fantastic things. Life in the Church was becoming better, more unified. The Church was growing and all seemed to be going well. Each week there would be powerful preaching from the pulpit with teachings that benefited many people.

One thing that sticks out in my memory is that this minister would frequently preach on morality, unity and relationships. How to act amongst each other, how to act in the world and how to act like Jesus. Yet in the end this minister did something that was not moral, caused upset and discord and caused fractures. The repercussions still rock our Church to this day and has impacted many lives in a negative way.

At the time I was shocked, horrified and disappointed. But most of all I felt let down. I felt that this person who had taught me so much about the faith had tore the foundations out from under me. I allowed their actions to affect my relationship with God.

I had fallen into a trap that many Christians do, we raise our ministers, preachers and leaders on to pedestals. We make them into semi-idols who we look up to and try to emulate. But only disaster lies down this path. Any Church leader is only human and as such as prone to mistakes, sin and falling as anyone else. By putting them on a pedestal we are setting them up to fall, and to fall further. These people are no better than us, there is nothing special about them except that they have been called to God's service. Being called as a minister does not make you a better Christian, it does not make you immune to sin.

All people are going to let you down at some point, that is part of life we have to deal with. We can not control other people's actions but our own reactions to events are under our control. We should remember the teachings of Jesus, to love each other and to be tough on sin but gentle with the sinner. We should do everything we can to help those who sin, those who fall short, because we don not know when it is that we may need the same help from them.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Doubts and fears

Doubt is an interesting phenomenon. We are taught as Christians that we should not doubt God, that he who believes without seeing is blessed. But is doubt always a bad thing?

When we are living our lives and trying to follow Gods plan it is inevitable that doubt will creep in at some point. Something will give you cause to pause and think is this the right plan of action for me? Is this what I should be doing?

It is not that we are doubting God or His plans, but rather that we are questioning if we have made the right interpretation of the plan in our lives. The doubt comes in because we are only human and more than capable of getting things wrong and misunderstanding things. Self doubt is something that is difficult to battle, especially as the causes of the doubt may not have originated in us either. It can be that some words in passing from a friend or lack of support may cause us to rethink things through and introduce this self doubt. And once started the self doubt begins to grow.

From this doubt comes the fear that we may be doing the wrong thing, that the path we have started heading down is in fact the wrong path. What do we do when this doubt and fear set in? how do we find the answer and decide if we should stick to our path or change it?

The answer every time has to be prayer. Ask for guidance, ask for knowledge and wisdom. Pray constantly until you are given the answers you need, until it becomes clear in your mind the direction to take. Paul once wrote some encouraging words to the Church in Philippii:

Philippians 1:6

    There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. 

If there is any doubt or a fear that you are not doing God's work or that you are not heading along the right path ask. Ask and ask again, because God will give you guidance, He will not be silent. You may be struggling to hear what He is saying but the answer will be there.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
    I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out-plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 
   "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 
   "When you come looking for me, you'll find me.
  "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else,  I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree.
  "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"-God's Decree-"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

God has plans for all of us, they may not always be clear, at time you will doubt that you have understood them. But God has told us already that when we are serious about seeking Him you will find Him, when you call on Him He will listen. You may not be in exile in the same way as the Israelites were but God will bring you back from the self doubt and bring you back to the point where you can start off from again.

Day off

I love having days off. I'm sure I am not the only one who does but I love the feeling when you wake up in the morning, realise its your day off and get to roll over again. I am so glad that I have the day off today because I really need it this week.

Today gives me a chance to recharge and relax but more importantly time to spend in prayer and really getting to grips with the Bible passages I have been looking at. With one thing and another my time seems to get eaten up in a normal day and it is nice to take this time just to stop and contemplate what is going on. The chance to think about things is invaluable right now as things are changing for me quite fast and if I don't take the time to think about them I run the risk of making decisions rashly and without praying about them.

I know I have not really said anything in this post except that I am going to have a slightly lazy day today. But sometimes it is necessary to just stop and take time with God. Sometimes we just need that time to bask in his healing presence.

I have been thinking about some words I used not long ago about taking time to relax amongst the business of life. I used it for another reason last time but it is just as valid now, it is William Dunkerley's Mid all the Traffic.

’Mid all the traffic of the ways,
Turmoils without, within,
Make in my heart a quiet place,
And come and dwell therein.

A little shrine of quietness,
All sacred to Thyself,
Where Thou shalt all my soul possess,
And I may find myself.

A little shelter from life’s stress,
Where I may lay me prone,
And bare my soul in loneliness,
And know as I am known.

A little place of mystic grace,
Of self and sin swept bare,
Where I may look upon Thy face,
And talk with Thee in prayer.
                    (William Dunkerley)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

John 3:16-21

John 3:16-21 (KJV)
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John's Gospel is possibly one of the best written books in the whole Bible. From the opening line of;

John 1:1 (KJV)
    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

up to the final;

John 21:25 (KJV)
    And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

every part of it tells the most amazing story in the most amazing way. I think at times we read the Bible as single verses or short passages and sometimes miss the context in which they reside. When looking at and studying the Bible we should be aware of not only the context of the settings in the surrounding passages but the context of the time in which it happened and the time when it was written.

I want to look at this passage in more depth but unfortunately don't have the time to do so right now. In the past I have done Bible studies such as the one on Job but this one is not going to be as lengthy. I do not plan on looking at John's gospel in it entirety but I will consider what the above passage means in respect to the general message of the book, the knowledge of the writer and the cultural context too. Watch this space as it should be ready in the next few days.


Last night I was sitting doing some thinking about the future. The result of this was that I managed to get myself slightly depressed. This is mainly because I am feeling quite lonely at the moment. I live a long way from my friends at the moment, I have few people to talk to here where I live and no one at the moment who I feel I can call on whenever I need someone. The other thing is that I am very aware that the path my life is taking means that this is not going to change for the better any time soon. In fact it is most probably going to get worse.

I know this sounds a lot like self pity, and in a certain sense it probably is. I also know that the times I feel like this are moments when I am about to make significant steps in the direction God wants me to go. I am aware that the enemy is going to do everything he can to put me off following God, trying to put me off folloing the plan for my life. The thing is, although I know these feelings are the result of an attack I also know there is an element of truth in them which makes them that bit more powerful. I am not naturally someone who enjoys being isolated and alone. I do like to have my space from time to time but I love being surrounded by friends and loved ones.

I know that whatever my lot in life I should be happy in it, I have a lot more than most people. Although I have been through some rough patches I have sailed through life relatively unscathed. I know that I will receive everything in life that I need at the time that I need it and that I need to wait with patience. But patience is something that I'm struggling with at the moment. I want to run headlong into these plans and want everything now. I have been told by a few people now that I should take some time to reflect on things and proceed prayerfully, and I know they are right. But just because I know that that is the way I should be does not change the fact that I am an impatient person.

I know that life will turn out for the best if I just hand it over to Him. I know that no matter what my thought and feelings about the plan are it is infinitely better than any plan that I could come up with. Patience is a virtue, or so I am told, and it is something that I need to work hard on to develop. I know these feelings will go away in the next few days, but it does not mean that because I know this they will be easier to deal with. I know God will help me battle these daemons and together we will overcome, until then I just need to pray for strength.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interesting Conversation

Well today has felt like a very long day at work, it wasn't but it sure felt like it. The day always seems to drag on forever when you have nothing to do, and today was no exception to that rule. Time flies past when you have a lot to do, today was no exception in that rule either.

All day I had practically nothing to do, I caught up with paper work, wrote reports and generally tidied up my work area. I really struggled to find things to do today, right up until my last half hour. Then it seemed as if I had become Mr Popular, everyone wanted me to do something, needed me to do a job or was desperate to chat to me about something. Eventually I managed to get round to finishing all these tasks and had only one thing left to do. I was already half an hour past my home time but one of the residents really wanted to talk.

So I sat down with this resident to talk not knowing quite what it was about.The gentleman in question had an amazing story to tell and some good questions he asked. I heard all about his long term drug addiction, his battle to overcome it, his family situation and personal life. The most amazing part of the conversation was this gentleman telling me about his faith.

After a bad experience with his addiction last week he had prayed for relief. He was in a pit of deep despair and in desperation he called out to the Lord to help. I was told of how he had received almost instant relief and had not touched any drugs since. Now in my short time working with these people I have had experiences of residents telling all sorts of nonsense in order to get staff onside for their own purposes. But this situation was different.

This gentleman who for weeks I have been trying to get to bathe, clean and tidy his room came to me in freshly laundered clothes having been recently bathed. Not only that he has cleared his room and requested the equipment in order to clean his room.

I was amazed at this gentleman's desire to know the Lord, his desire to change his life, to become everything he should be. However I was more amazed that after a 20+ year drug addiction he is experiencing absolutely no withdrawal symptoms after nearly 2 weeks without using.

Our God is a powerful and amazing God, a loving and forgiving God. I really hope this gentleman is serious about letting God into his life and that he continues to take these steps in the right direction. I was able to point him in the direction of people much stronger and more experienced in the faith than myself for him to talk to further. However I made him aware that I am available to talk to him further about this if he needs a friendly ear. I will be praying for this resident that he is able to continue on this path, the one that he sees before him and is trying to walk on. If any of you would pray for him also I know it will help, thanking you in advance for all your prayers.

Lord, if your presence does not go with us

Lord, if Your presence does not go with us,
Please do not send us out from here.
How will anyone know we are Your people unless You go before us?
Lord, if Your favour does not rest on us,
We dare not move beyond this place.
How will anyone know we go in Your name unless Your blessing is over us?
     So we stand within Your presence,
     And humbly seek Your grace;
     Father almighty, Jehovah, Saviour,
     We long to meet you face to face.
     Let Your glory fall upon us,
     Convict, inspire, provide;
     Father almighty, Jehovah, Saviour,
     Your holy presence is our guide.

Lord, if Your presence does not stay with us,
Please do not send us out from here.
How will anyone hear of truth and goodness unless Your word speaks through us?
Lord, if Your presence is not love in us,
How can we minister Your grace?
How will anyone feel Your tender mercy unless Your heart is in us?

     Let Your glory fall upon me,
     Convict, inspire, provide;
     Father almighty, Jehovah, Saviour,
     Your holy presence is my guide
     Father almighty, Jehovah, Saviour,
     Your holy presence is my guide.
                                 (Yvonne Field)

This song is one that I have sung many many times both in a choir and as a congregation. The words are a powerful message that reminds us that we need to have God in our lives as we go out into this world we live in. If we do not take God with us in all things then how is it possible for people to know we are His? If we do not have God in all of our lives how can we bring Him to other people?

We need to ask the Lord daily to be in our lives, to give over to Him everything that we have and all that we are. When we do that His power will be present in us and work through us. We are not only doing this to go out and save a dying world and save suffering souls, but we are doing this for our own eternal life too. It is not that we need to earn our eternal life but it is not possible to be one of Gods children and not hurt for those who do not know Him. By being one of Gods children it should come naturally to want to spread this anazing gift to as many people as possible.

We have an amazing God, one who loves us for who we are, one who will never leave us and never let us down. Why would you want to keep this to yourself? We are all made by God and He wants to know us all, and He wants to know us now. There is no escaping God's love, no way to hide from it. But you do have to accept it into your life if you want it to begin to make a difference.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Attend a Divisional/Territorial Meeting or Congress

So last week I selected to complete the challenge of  Attend a Divisional/Territorial Meeting or Congress. The reason I selected this one and did not pull it from the hat as I have done is that these events do not happen regularly and this one was a big event. Regardless this is the task I had to do and so I best tell you guys all about it.

The task actually began the night before if I am honest with a conversation with my parents while we were cooking supper. The crux of the argument was from my Dad that I would not wear any clothes which had more than the normal number of holes in them. This for those that don't know me being a dig at my trademark torn jeans. These jeans of which there are many pairs are worn everywhere with the exception of work and general bumming round the house, they are very much a part of who I am. After giving a short but polite response that I would wear what I wanted as there is no dress code for meeting Jesus I retreated to my room. After a short conversation with a friend of mine it was decided that there was another way to express my individuality without upsetting my parents. There were a number of Biblical quotes thrown round to honour my parents and so it was settled that I would do nothing to begin the day on a bad note.

So on the morning of the Congress I surprised my parents by being dressed quite snappily and being quite bright and bouncy despite it being 6am, not a time I see very often. And so we headed off on the long drive to the congress in a minibus filled with members of my Church. This was a particularly boring section of the day which I chose to listen to my ipod and catch up on the news with a cup of tea. Probably not the best way to spend time preparing for such a big event but it at least put me in a very good mood, especially the tea.

Once we arrived I met up with some friends and left the people I had travelled with to spend time with my friend who has been invaluable to me in my spiritual growth. We found our seats and sat down and waited for the service to begin, happily enjoying the lolly pops I had pocketed before leaving the house. This service was possibly one of the biggest moments in my life so far, and definitely the biggest moment in my Christian life since becoming a Christian. It wasn't that this service was the best I have ever been to but it was the right moment for something big to change in my life.

During the service there was a period where the mercy seat at the front was opened up for those who wished to use it. Now the mercy seat is something I normally do not agree with, I feel it is often abused and used for the wrong reasons, that it is used by preachers and congregation alike as a symbol of public recognition of sins. But that is for another post. However on this morning I was sat there in my seat with my friend on their knees in private prayer knowing that I had to go to the front and talk with a particular minister. The minister in question is someone who I have talked and prayed with before about my past, present and future with God. The last time we had talked it was regarding my Dad and telling him about my future, and I knew that day was the day I must tell him. And so I went to the mercy seat to pray with said minister and asked for courage and strength to talk to my dad. The rest of that story can be found here.

Now the rest of the day was a great opportunity to meet up with old friends, catch up with people I had not seen in a while and generally enjoy the atmosphere of the congress. For the rest of the day I was a bit euphoric and nothing was able to dampen my spirits, not even running out of lollies before the evening service was about to begin. Although the evening service had a better preacher and was widely regarded as the best of the weekend I personally did not gain as much from it as I had the mornings session. However I did sit through the whole service feeling as high as I have for a long time.

The drive home was a little tense with my Dad sat next to me, but he did not want to talk about our earlier conversation and my Mum was more concerned about the outcome of Strictly Come Dancing. However although my Dad did not want to talk about our conversation he was strangely talkative for my Dad. I know that the news I gave him was quite a bit of a shock and that it will take him some time to get used to it, I can see that in time he will come round to the idea and support me.

So all in all I believe that it is another successful challenge completed. And so that leads me on to what my next challenge will be. As it is remembrance Sunday today I will be completing the challenge of Attend a service of remembrance for this weeks challenge. As usual you can catch up on all the previous weeks challenges and the challenges yet to come on the Soldier's Challenge tab or by following the link. Check back next week to read about this weeks challenge and see what is in store for me the week after when I will again be pulling out one of the remaining tasks from my hat. Hope you have a great week and feel free to visit any time to catch up on my daily posts through the week.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Matthew stood up and followed him

Matthew 9:9
    Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him.

If Jesus told you to stop everything you were doing and follow Him would you? If Jesus was calling you to be something different than you ever dreamt of could you give up all you had? If Jesus asked that you change your life in almost every way how would you react?

The truth is Jesus is calling all of us, I have mentioned this before. He has a path and a plan marked out for all of us. But what happens if that plan is radically different to our own. Does that mean God wants you to turn your back on everything you have done so far?

This is a point I am "discussing" currently with various people. The fact that my life up to this point has been if anything heading away from God. That everything I have done in life in preparing for the future has been everything but what I believe God is calling me to go do.

Yet God wastes nothing, all the experiences and all I have learned will put me in good standing for the future. The "transferable skills" I have will be invaluable for the job I believe I am called to. God can use me as I am and use what I have to do His work. He knew before I was alive the things I would do, the path I would take, because He has plans for me to do. God's plan in my life did not include the hurt and heartache I have endured in the past, but it can utilise what I learned from it to do His work in the future.

We have to trust in God, we know he will always lead us to do what is good. That He will always be there helping us and protecting us.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
    I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 
   "When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 
   "When you come looking for me, you'll find me.
  "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." 

This is the day

This is the day, so was yesterday, and tomorrow will be too.

Psalm 118:24 (KJV)
    This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 

Is it not amazing that God made all of this for us? Everything you can see, everything you can't see and so much more than that. While at university I had the good fortune to learn about the realities of the universe in which we live, how it is constructed and how it works. Let me tell you it is an amazing and wonderful creation. Christians should not be afraid of science, we should embrace it as a way of looking at our Lord's fantastic creation.

God designed and made everything from the finally balanced dance of an electron around an atomic nucleus, to the fusion processes that power stars. He set the galaxies spinning and He tuned the atomic forces. Everything from the tiniest quantum process up to galactic super clusters are in his design. Why should science have a monopoly on such wonders.

Can we be so closed minded as to say, "Oh no God couldn't possibly work like that!". God reminds us in Isaiah 55:

Isaiah 55:8-9
        "I don't think the way you think.
            The way you work isn't the way I work."
                God's Decree. 
        "For as the sky soars high above earth,
            so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
            and the way I think is beyond the way you think." 

We may not be able to understand God's reasoning or God's plans. We may not even be able to understand creation in the end. But God made us like Him:

Genesis 1:26-27
        God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
            reflecting our nature
        So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
            the birds in the air, the cattle,
        And, yes, Earth itself,
            and every animal that moves on the face of Earth." 
        God created human beings;
            he created them godlike,
        Reflecting God's nature.
            He created them male and female. 

We were made in God's image reflecting His nature.God created us Godlike reflecting His nature. Our curiosity is built in to us, we have had since Adam and Eve a thirst for knowledge, a desire to know more about the world God gave us.

Why should we be in conflict with, or afraid of science? As a scientist and a Christian I have yet to find a real conflict between the two. People talk of the age of the earth or evolution as being incompatible with Christianity. Let me point out two things, in the beginning a day would be whatever God defined it to be as a 24 hour day is a product of the spin of the Earth. 7 days in Genesis refers not to 7x24 hours but 7 distinct periods of time. And as for evolution, who are we to tell God how he can do things, who are we to dictate His methods. Look back at Isaiah 55:

        "I don't think the way you think.
            The way you work isn't the way I work."

God gave us the intelligence to see the world and learn about it, He gave us the ability to understand at least a part of it. Why can we not take this knowledge and say "What a mighty God have I" why do we insist on telling God, "No you can't do it that way".

Psalm 118:24 (KJV)
    This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 

This is not just the day the Lord has made, it is the world and the universe that Lord has made. Look on it and be amazed, it was by the same hands that were sacrificed and bled that it was made. If we can learn even a small part about it and realise the power our God has, why fight against it. We need to get out of this point of view that science and religion are incompatible. We are taught in the Bible that God made everything and told the story of why, science is just our way of learning some of the hows. Look to science and be amazed, because we have a God who is greater than that, he designed and built it all and understood it all from the very beginning. Do not be scared or offended by science, remember that our God was the first scientist, and will be the last. For He is the alpha and the omega, the creator of it all and He will be there at the end of it all to welcome us into eternity with Him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stormy weather of the soul

The wise man in the storm prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.
                    (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

This quote is something we should all remember. We need to be watchful for the things within and without that can come between us and God. We need to be careful that we do not let anything stop us being as close to God as it is possible for us to be. The enemy will launch many attacks in many different ways to try and break the bond we have with God. He know he can not stop God from loving us, but he can have a good shot at driving us away from God. We need to pray always and ask him to help us with that which threatens to get in the way. Once the storms within are calmed, the ones without will seem so much smaller.

Terah and Abram

I have started to read the Bible from cover to cover in order to learn as much as I can about it. I said I was not going to update on it often but would highlight anything I found interesting or that stood out to me. Well the other day I was reading my way through Genesis, which by the way I am still reading, when I found this passage.

Genesis 11:31-32 (NLT)
     One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there. Terah lived for 205 years and died while still in Haran.

This passage had me thinking? Why did Terah head out to Canaan, I have looked in a few places for information about Terah and this journey and have found little that has any evidence to support it. The best reference I have found is in the Bible;

Joshua 24:2
     Joshua said to the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River, and they worshiped other gods.

So I have looked at this and the writings of other people and can find no reason to explain why Terah left for Canaan. Some people suggest he followed Abram but then chose to stay in Haran. For me this makes no sense, mainly because it states in Genesis 11:31 that Terah took his son Abram. So what is going on here? Who took who to Canaan and why?

Like I say there is much to be found about Terah and Abram but not of it seems to make much sense or be supported by anything solid. Because of that I must be honest and say I have no idea about why Terah began heading for Canaan and then stopped once in Haran.

However there is one way of looking at it, God wanted Abram in Canaan. God had a mission for Abram to do and there was nothing that could stop that from happening once Abram became God's man. So if this is the case then we can see it as God guiding Abram's life through all things big and small until he was able to make a choice himself. We see that in all things we do God is working in the background, setting the scene until the time is right. You can guarantee that if God asks us to do something, He is working to bring the things he promises to pass, even if he has not told us of that promise yet. God has a plan, and it is eternal. And we fit into that plan if we accept God in to our lives.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We will remember them

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
     Laurence Binyon's

Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the end of the fist world war. The Great war as it was called, the war that would bring peace to our time. Or so people thought. And yet here we are nearly a century on still fighting wars the world over.

My Paternal Grandfather was born not long after the end of WWI and lived through the troubled times of the aftermath and then WWII. During WWII his job at the coal face was deemed too important for him to fight yet the stories he has of the war on the home front were still chilling and poignant. My other Grandfather however was an RAF engineer, working on Spitfires and Hurricanes during WWII. Keeping these planes flying was of paramount importance in England surviving the war.

In these wars and the many that followed it many people have lost their lives fighting for freedom and as the politicians claim "peace". Yet still we fight on. Yes on a day like today we should remember the servicemen who have served, who have fallen or been injured fighting for their country. The job they do is one that requires bravery and courage. We should not only remember the soldiers though, we should remember everyone involved. Be they support staff or civilians, these wars impinge on many many lives, even those not directly involved. The families of soldiers left behind at home or left bereaved by wars. We should remember everyone affected by war and the problems it causes.

But we should not forget the hope that was held throughout all this time, peace. It is an aim worth holding on to, an aim as Christians we should strive daily towards. For it is not by war that we will achieve peace, but through love. Jesus commanded us to love thy neighbour, and we are more than aware that by neighbour Jesus meant our fellow man. We need to remember that we are all God's creations, that He loves us all. Let's show our love to everyone, lets strive for the peace that this can bring.

Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
     Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

So what next

Well I spoke the other day about my weekend and the events that it included. So now I have told my Dad of my intentions and what I believe God is calling me to do, what happens next?

Well two things swung into action yesterday. The first is that I spoke to the area leaders of my Church last night and told them of my intentions officially and spent some time talking to them about my life and God's work in it. There is still a small amount to be done here and worked on before I know for sure the reality and likely time line for this plan but this should hopefully happen quickly in the next week.

The second thing is a little more advanced in the planning stage. This is my desire to move to Vancouver for a year and work with a project there. The project is working with homeless and vulnerable people in Vancouver and with an aspect of training in Christian ministry and being a radical Christian. As this work is similar to what I am doing now it would be a natural progression and an amazing experience. As someone who relishes being thrown into the deep end and learning new skill from experience this is likely to be a fantastic opportunity. I have secured almost everything I need to do for this and the only thing that remains is talking it through with my parents further before I apply for it and commit fully to it.

So there is a lot going on in my life right now but it is all exciting and God centred. Within the next few weeks things will start coming together much more solidly and then I think I will be ready to make the announcement to the world what I am planning on doing with my life. But I know that the next few weeks, months and years are going to be very exciting and full of adventure. Some would say the events that have led me to this point would make me a very lucky person, I would disagree, I would say it shows I have an awesome God who loves me.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Challenge issued

I was at a meeting in the hostel where I work today where we had ministers and musical sections from Churches around for a fellowship service. I wont say it was the best service I have ever attended because I would be lying, but neither was it the worst. It was however not pitched at the correct audience, in my opinion anyway.

There was some good came out of it though. At the end of it I was talking to someone about God, prayer and if there is anything to it. Knowing this person quite well and knowing we would have many chances to talk on an almost daily basis I said. "Rather than debate this now, why don't we try and experiment and talk about it once completed?" I then asked how he would feel about commuting to praying and reading a Bible everyday for a month and see if it makes a difference to his life. He agreed that there was no harm in trying this and he was willing to give it a go and see if it would work. Now we who are Christians know the power of prayer and the word of God and its ability to change lives, this person does not. I know if he approaches this in the right way wondrous things may happen in his life. I ask that everyone who is willing pray for this man as he takes this step towards God, that he will use this opportunity and come to know God through Jesus. I will be praying for him everyday and ask that if it is not too much you do too. If you do not know God then I would challenge you to do the same thing spend a short amount of time each day reading the Bible and praying for 30 days. If you do know God but have a friend or family member who does not know God challenge them to try God out for 30 days and see what He can do.

So there you go, challenge issued.

Psalm 34:8 (KJV)
    O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. 

What dreams are made of

I don't know if anyone else ever experienced this, but for a number of years I lost the ability to dream. Or at least the ability to remember them when awake. I would sleep very heavily and soundly but as far as I know I did not dream. And I never really thought that I was missing out on anything, I was reasonably happy in life and did not see what all the fuss was about.

And then about a year ago I began to dream regularly again, and be able to hold these dreams in my mind once I was awake. And some of these have been quite profound for me. And it is about one of these that I want to post about now.

Last night I had a strange dream, it started off just like any normal fantasy dream. I was a staring role in a favourite TV show of mine dealing with an average story line. And then it all began to go a bit strange. I ran away from the scene with a valuable prop out on to a quayside, jumped onto a navy ship and tried to hide. The ship was locked up so I could not leave the room I was in and it was full of sailors. Everyone was really friendly and kind but I knew that security would be up for me at any moment. After a short while there was a knock on the door and the sailors opened it up. Being convinced it was security I simply held out my hands and waited for the inevitable.

But the inevitable did not come. Through the door came a small stocky man with a huge smile on his face who laughed and said, "put your hands down boy, I'm the chaplain". He took me to a quiet corner and said to me, "what can I do to help you" and I asked him for a Bible. When he gave one to me I told him I was a practising Christian and asked if I could have a moment with the Bible. and when I opened the Bible I saw the words "For I am the Lord your God, there is nothing you can do to escape my love."

With everything I am going through I know this dream is a message I need to take heed of. I am about to start a process that could take a long time and is in no way going to be easy. I know God is saying to me that no matter what I do or where I go there He will always be to comfort and help me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A great day

Today was a brilliant day, I had so much fun at work today and so many great things happened.

I witnessed some fantastic life changing moments today while out with the residents of the Hostel I work at. I had the opportunity to take some residents to talk about their experiences in life and living on the streets. Some of these guys have had and still have some major issues and find it difficult to mix with people from everyday life. But today I saw 3 of them step out of their comfort zones and be interviewed about their lives. One resident who is particularly shy and more than a little uncomfortable with the thought of the interview really made my day. He talked for quite some time and was doing very well. However after a little while he became uncomfortable and wanted a break. I was more than happy with how well he had done and told him just how pleased I was with his progress over such a short time. He decided that he didn't want to go back but would stay until the others had finished. However the story does not end there, after a short cigarette break he came and sat back with me and the two girls interviewing. Better yet, he began to join into the conversation again. For me this was a brilliant reward for the work I have been doing, to see one of the guys I work closely with make such a huge step in a short period of time.

As well as that we had a film night in the centre and had only a small number watching the film. However the sense of fellowship and friendship that is beginning to grow between the residents is making a real difference. The confidence of the group members is increasing and the help they are offering each other is amazing to see. The longer I am working there the easier my job is becoming as the residents are realising they are able to help not only themselves but each other as well.

And in all of this each day I have a fantastic chance for ministry, not only to the residents but to the staff as well. Day by day my actions and conduct is being watched by large numbers of people and increasingly I am able to have the opportunities to explain why my passion for this job is what it is. I pray that one day I will have the great pleasure of being able to stand next to one of these guys as fellow Christians knowing that I had in some way a small part to play in their coming to know Jesus.