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

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Christian Driving

Ok, so I have been quiet on here for a little longer than I first intended. I am still working on my letter and it is taking longer than I thought so I am going to try and blog and write until it is finished.

Today's post is based on an experiment I have been performing for a few weeks now, I have been trying to see what difference driving in a Christian manner makes to my daily commute. Each day I spend up to about 2 hours driving to and from work and this has given me much time to try out various styles of driving to see which one works best.

I have to admit that naturally I am a very aggressive driver, I have always assumed that this style would be best as it would get me from point A to point B in the fastest possible time. Recently however the stress levels I have experienced in the car have been enough for me to try out a few different styles of driving to see if they make a difference.

The first difference I made was taking a different route to work, after a little experimenting I found a lovely route that takes me through some beautiful countryside with fantastic views that also uses less fuel, win win so far. Just the other day I realised that driving this route home rather than the motorway and the excessive traffic was leaving me feeling happier and more relaxed at the end of my journey which has led to my long term abandonment of the motorway.

Another difference which I am sad to admit I am finding difficult to always stick to, and one I have to remind myself of regularly is to drive in a Christian manner. To be courteous to other road users, polite and conscientious at all times instead of defending my road position and throwing hideous insults at those who get in my way. I have realised that on the days I drive with respect for those also using the road I may not always get home as fast as I could, but I do get home relatively stress free.

So my question is, when driving do you find that taking time to drive as a Christian and to appreciate God's creation improves your day, or is speed and short journey time the target for you?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Letter Writing

Hey guys hope you are all well. I am doing pretty good myself but have recently got a bee in my bonnet about the work I do and the Church I am a part of. This has led me to begin writing a mammoth letter which I will be sending to the leaders of my Church both nationally and internationally. Unfortunately this probably means that the time I would use to write on this I am likely to use in working on this letter. I may post the letter on here once I am done but I am not sure. So if I don't post for a little while don't worry I have not disappeared again I am just working on something else. Hope to be back on here soon, until then guys.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Rugby World Cup

As I write this I am lying in bed watching England's first game in the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Now I have been waiting 4 years since the last one for this one to start and like I do every 4 years I believe England can win the Web Ellis Trophy once again.

Rugby is a sport I love whether that is playing it or watching it I love it. However I have noticed at times that this sport can bring out the worst in me. I am well aware that this morning I have been very verbally aggressive and possibly slightly racist against the Argentinians and all because of 30 men running round after a prolate spheroid.

This aggressive nature is completely opposite to what my Christian nature should be, it is not compatible with the life I should be living. But how is it possible to reconcile my passion for this sport and my country and my Christian faith?

When I used to play myself we were always taught that we were to heap all our hate, anger and aggression on the other team so that combined with our passion we would be committed fully to a win. Equally though we were taught that respect on the pitch for our fellow players and to leave all those feelings on the field was the way we should be acting.

I think that this is similar to the idea of being strong on doctrine yet also strong on mercy. We can have this passion and have a righteous anger and still show Christian forgiveness and love by being merciful in the same way Christ was. We can want to win, we can push for victory, but not at the expense of our faith and values. We can hate what is wrong and hate what is evil, but not hate the people who are in the wrong or being evil. As Christians we should be tough on sin but gentle with the sinner.

Saying this it does not excuse the things I have felt and said this morning towards the Argentinians but it does show that we can have a passion and a desire to win in such things but we should always remember that as Christians we should love our fellow man, even if they are from Argentina.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

If it wasn't for those darn pesky Christians

I need to blow off some steam about something that happened at work tonight. I work as a support worker with people who are homeless, rootless or at risk of becoming so. This entails working with addicts, alcoholics, people with mental health issues and those working the streets. It is an absolute passion of mine to help these people and although I have not been employed to do this for long I know what does and does not work with this client group.

So tonight while working on our soup run four people in bright fluorescent jackets rocked up to my soup run asking who we are and what we do. It turned out that these people were from a local church who had recently begun doing outreach for the homeless on a Wednesday night offering hot drinks to the homeless and street beggars. This in itself is not a bad thing, anything that helps people in these situations can only be a good thing my issue lies in the fact that these guys are the new kids on the block rocking up to an established service attempting to poach service users is not in the best interest of said service users. My biggest bug bear is that they were actively attempting to coax my clients to their service, but they are not offering them anything past a hot drink and maybe a listening ear. Normally this is not a bad thing, the charity I work for believes strongly in service user led relationships and building relationships with service users by giving them time and not pushing an agenda. However when this takes a service user out of a situation where they are accessing a support service where they receive support that is available every day of the week and try to supplant this with just a one night a week service which only provides a hot drink this is doing harm.

What I see happening is a Church who have had the right idea but they have not followed it through properly. They have not looked at service provision already provided and looked to fill a need that exists, they have just simply had an idea and gone and done it. This for me is a massive waste of volunteer time, resources and funding that could have been utilised to do much more good in a different way. If they had looked at service provision they would have seen the nights when there is no provision and been able to set up a useful service. As it is they are providing nothing new and potentially causing harm to people who could be receiving practical help and assistance.

This is not the first time I have seen this happen, a Church sets up a scheme or program to help "the needy" but quickly burns out because they are replicating services and not providing anything of use. Like I said I have no objection to what these people are doing, helping these guys is fantastic, however by not researching the situation they are not helping they are potentially causing harm which is in no ones best interest.

One thing that I found didn't sit well with me was the need of these four to talk about God constantly. Ok, you are from a Church we get that, you want to help those who have a need, we get that too but why are you trying to convert people before you help them? Why are you presenting yourself with the unwritten proviso that by being Christian you are going to receive more help? It shouldn't be about trying to convert these people, we shouldn't be telling them that we will help them but fist we will pray about it. In time it may be that these people want to know about God, want to know why we do what we do, but it should never be something we require them to do. Help should never be provided on a basis of conversion, help should be freely given. We should be acting in a Christlike way, we should be helping these people but to do so on a basis of them listening to us sermonising is in my eyes wrong. Preach by your actions by all means, but to force your religion on someone when they don't want it is not going to win any souls.

For me the most telling part of the night was a quote from one service user who said to the Church group;

"This guy is my support worker, he looks out for me and has my back and for that I have his back. When I need help he is always there, he knows me and my situation and knows how to help. He's not just about a cup of coffee he is there when I'm rattling for drink and drugs and never judges me. I don't come here for the coffee or soup, I come here because I know he will be here and I know I can come tell him my problems and tomorrow morning he will be there to help sort them out. And any way I have enough problems as it is without you guys giving me more"

I know some people out there will disagree with me, but I am a Christian, I have a calling and a passion to help the homeless and the social outcasts, yes I want to win souls for Christ, yes I would love them to attend a Church but I am never going to force my religion on someone as recourse for providing help and I don't believe anyone else should either. If Churches are to do this sort of work they need to think about who it is they are really helping, are they doing this to ease their conscience or are they trying to help those who need it.  If they are really there to help those who need it are they really providing the right kind of help or could the money be better used by professionals out there day after day providing the help these people need and really making a difference.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

I'm a Christian, But......

Before I start this post I want to put out this disclaimer. I do not claim now and have never claimed to be a shining light of Christian purity. I would willingly admit that I often get things wrong and that I have made many mistakes past, present and likely in the future too. I also know that I myself am far from sinless despite my best efforts to be what I should be as a Christian.

Ok now I have said that I feel an awful lot happier about the rant I am about to go on. The thing I want to talk about is Christians who push themselves into positions of influence and set themselves up as supposed good examples who knowingly live in unchristian ways.

I doubt it is only me who has trouble with people who seek out positions of influence and power in the Church for their own means and then go on to act in thoroughly unchristian ways. I can't help but think that a at least part of the problems we have in the Church are in some way connected to the bad examples of leaders who are not there for God. In this I mean the people who need to be in these positions of power and influence for their own gratification and own purposes. These people who then go on to continue to act in worldly ways with inappropriate behaviour, gossiping and spreading rumours. This poison then permeates its way through Churches, in fact The Church infecting people further setting poor examples to those young or weak in the faith who perhaps then see this as acceptable behaviour.

As I said in the disclaimer, I do not believe myself to be an example of what a Christian should be, far from it. To be honest I would be willing to admit I fall far short of where I should be as a Christian many times. But without then trying to make myself sound any better, I do not claim to be a perfect example, I do not pretend to be anything but a sinful man daily asking the Lord for forgiveness. I pray that Christians would see the sin in their own lives, the gossiping, rumour spreading and general sinful behaviour and acknowledge it. By acknowledging it they can not only confront it and attempt to drive it from their lives but also show others that while sin is not ok or acceptable it is going to happen. Show that by having a relationship with Jesus and asking for forgiveness we can grow as Christians and in faith.

These people know that what they are doing is wrong, unchristian and hurtful, they know they are causing pain to those they wrong and who they gossip about. Rumours based on idle speculation, conjuncture and wild fantasy that they spread cause a level of hurt that is known only to the individual and the Father. When friends turn on friends and say things that are hurtful or cause situations where the truth is either veiled or hidden purposely for their own gain. When friends manipulate circumstances to gain an advantage over friends all of these things are a source of the pain that Christ felt upon the cross.

Paul's letters to the early Church talk about situations we still see today, brothers and sisters in Christ are still acting in ways that are far from Christlike and in ways we have be warned and instructed not to act. We are all going to sin, we are all going to make mistakes but I can't help but think that these people are claiming to be followers of Christ but have not accepted the Spirit, have not accepted Christ's forgiveness and are not following the two greatest commandments.

Matthew 22:36-40
When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: "Teacher, which command in God's Law is the most important?"
Jesus said, "'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.' These two commands are pegs; everything in God's Law and the Prophets hangs from them."

Sunday, September 04, 2011

25 years and counting

So today is my birthday, not normally something I celebrate much or really bother with but I think adding an extra year on is a good time to take stock and look back on the last year. So here is a quick summary.

In this area of my life I have been quite successful, just less than a year ago I made the transition into working in social care from my previous life as a scientist. This went very well and the training post I was in taught me a lot in a short space of time. I met some fantastic people who began to equip me with the skills I need to follow my calling. Then in March I moved jobs and cities to begin working with a small charity that helps street addicts and street homeless which is something I feel very strongly about. In the 5 months I have been there I have grown in knowledge and understanding of the sector and also gained many skills that will be invaluable to me in the future.

This time last year I was living at home for the first time in 6 years and it was not ideal. However it did put me close to my family and allow me to spend time with them, especially my Godson. But with the new job came a move to a new city and while for a short time my housing situation was not good, i.e. technically homeless, I am now living with one of my best friends in a lovely apartment and beginning to9 settle in quite nicely.

Now this area of my life has been quite rocky. I made a commitment to God and my Church over a year ago but due to various reasons this has still to progress further than just talking about it. Because I moved cities and have had to move Churches the process of me applying to become a minister has taken about 20 steps back. However as of this week I am now officially a member of my new congregation and looking forward to things moving forward again. I miss the Church I grew up in but feel that moving to a new city and a new Church with everything tht is going on will in the long run be the best for my spiritual growth.

Spiritual life:
Now probably the most important aspect of my life. Sadly I have not taken care of this aspect of my life quite as well as I have of the others. With everything that has gone on of late setting aside time to be with God has not been easy and at times I am sad to admit not been a priority. This has had an adverse affect on some areas of my life and I have really struggled at times. There have been some dark days which would have been so much brighter if I had not been neglecting my spiritual life. I am now making an effort to change this, I have seen it as a problem and have begun to make it more of a priority.

As many of you are likely to know I took quite a long unplanned hiatus in blogging. I did the thing I hate other people doing and just disappeared from the blogosphere with no warning. There are reasons for this, mostly to do with the stresses of moving city and starting a new job but with some extra unneeded stresses from people who were supposed to be there to help me. I am now back on track even if I am not posting with the same regularity and quantity of the past. I am still trying to work out what I want this to be going forward but after my break I have rediscovered my passion for sharing whatever is on my mind with you guys, hope someone is finding it interesting in some way.

So that is a rough summary of most of my life in the last year, there have been a few other things going on but that about covers most of it. I am now off to enjoy my birthday by relaxing and taking it easy, after 25 years of trying I might finally get the quiet and relaxing birthday I have always desired.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Church Billboards

I went to one of my work colleges house warming party tonight and on the car journey home I saw a really good Church Billboard.

Jesus is the bread of life
Uses self-raising power

When I saw this it took a few seconds for it to sink in, a few seconds to realise the full meaning of this phrase. We see the analogy of the bread of life used time and time again, it was refreshing to see this clever play on words to make you think about it a little bit more.

For the rest of the journey the phrase ran round in my head and I thought about how true it is. As with baking bread if we want to make our lives with God the right way, if we are to follow the recipe we need to use some kind of raising agent, and the only raising agent for true everlasting life is Jesus. 

Jesus can make our lives grow and expand and become so much more than they could be with out him much in the same way that bread dough rises with the addition of yeast. The power of the risen Saviour can do amazing things, bring about wondrous changes when applied to your life. 

What is your life like?

Is it a spiritual flat bread or do you have the rising power of Christ in your life?

No Surrender, We Will Not Retreat

How many people are prepared to give up everything for Jesus, how many people are prepared to turn their back on everything they have known, a safe life, a solid career in order to follow the will of God? I know many Christians who would say that they would, many Christians who would claim that they put Jesus first in all things.

How many actually do though?

We see many people who claim to Christians, who claim to be strong of faith who will just go through the motions, who will turn up week in week out "doing their bit" and "chipping in". When asked about their calling they will either ramble off the subject or say something along the lines of "I don't know what God is calling me to do yet".

I understand that God works differently with different people, and some people are desperately searching for God's plan in their lives. But I would say the problem for those genuinely searching and those just showing a Christian face on Sundays is roughly the same. They have not given control of their lives over to the Lord, they have not offered to do His will come what may.

The people who say they are praying for direction and to know God's plan for them are either not praying ernestly or are holding back. When you ask God how he wants to use you, when you offer your life to God with no provisions or caveats then and only then will you begin to see His plan mapped out in your life.

In the Church we do not need more people who are just along for the ride, we do not need more people who are wanting to remain in the world. What we do need are people who are willing to give up everything, people who are willing to say "No surrender, we will not retreat". We need people who are on fire for God, burning with a passion that only the Holy Spirit can bring.

Following on in a similar vein to yesterday I would rather see a smaller Church of people who are really on fire for God. A Church cut back and pruned to those who are healthy in the Lord. I believe that when we get a Church like this, a Church following His will, a Church willing to sacrifice all it has, that is when we see Church growth, that is when we see revivals and that is when God can do his best work through his Churches.

How many people can say they are willing to give their all to god? How many Christians are willing to do anything He requires?

I don't know the answer to this but I pray that the Lord will find more people open to His will and that we follow His ways to bring his Churches back to life so that He does not decide to prune us and remove us from the Church vine.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cutting back

Pruning - To trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, esp. to increase fruitfulness and growth.

After a conversation with my flat mate and having being forced to watch a TV program about attempting to revive a dying village in Wales I have been thinking about dying Churches. These thoughts have been running round in my head for a number of days in a different form. This has brought me round to thinking about how we deal with small, shrinking and dying Churches.

In the UK we have a problem with shrinking congregations, reduced Church attendance and Churches withering and dying. In towns and villages up and down the country groups of Christians are fighting a losing battle to keep their Churches alive. My question is, are they wasting their time and is there a different way to tackle this problem.

John 15:1-2
 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

Now for me it seems obvious that when something dies and has no life left in it something needs to be done. As in plants or indeed bodies if a portion of it dies then it should be cut off. If this is not done the dead or dying portion sucks up valuable resources and deprives the healthy areas of the things they need to survive. It can also be the case that these dead and dying portions become rotten or infected and because they have not been cut off they infect other areas.

As in gardening and medicine the Church should also be aware of areas of itself that have died or are dying. It is not that Churches can not be saved, unfortunately some can not, but once they are past a point is it wise to pour resources down a black hole when they could be spent expanding work elsewhere. As Jesus said, if a branch is not bearing fruit then it will but cut off, Jesus even tells us that these branches will be left to wither a dry up and then be cast on to the fire, they are no good for God if they are not doing his will. Even those Churches who are strong will be pruned back from time to time in order to bring them renewed strength.

The point I want to make is not that shrinking Churches are a bad thing, sometimes good can come from this and a Church that is pruned back to healthy stock can flourish again. However a dead a rotten Church is doing no one any good and could in fact be doing harm. I can't be the only one who thinks that the hard decision should be made to shut down dying Churches and use the money in different ways to extend God's kingdom. It is not even necessary to remove the money from the community it is in but perhaps use it in a more constructive way in a community than shoring up a failing Church.

When I think of Jesus and his ministry I see someone radical who pushed the boundaries of the status quo. I see some of the situations in the modern Church causing him to display the righteous anger from the temple. The way we are running the Church is not in my eyes in the spirit in which it started. The reason I think we see the problems we do is because we have turned away from God and are ignoring the Spirit. As I have already said they best way I see to remedy this is to return to the early Church, return to the Churches true calling. This is not going to happen if we continue to pump money into failing projects, dying Churches and continue to push our own agendas rather than follow God's.

Let me know what you think about this subject, do you have a better idea for a solution, or do you have any other thoughts on this subject. Please leave a comment below.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Walking the line

I work with street people, people with no homes, no link to society and no faith in their fellow man. These people often have no one and have been treat so badly in the past and often the present that they can not see it ever changing in the future. My role is to build relationships with these people and help them integrate in their own time and in their own unique way not by telling them how to fix their lives but walking alongside them helping to take the load when it becomes too much for them.

One phrase we have at work is that our best work is done when we are not only on the line, but sometimes when our toes are just over the line. For me this is an amazing way to work, helping people rebuild their lives themselves, giving them the option to fail and still provide the support and friendship, becoming more than just another worker pushing another agenda.

Since beginning this job 6 months ago I have come to realise that this way of working is also the way I act as a Christian. A way that I feel may not win more souls than other methods, but has a better chance of truly saving people heart mind and soul. This is because in my interactions with people I am not preaching sermons to them or trying to force people to live as I do. I am giving people the option to make their own decisions and never leaving because they act contrary to my beliefs. But day by day in every interaction I am showing them who I am, and through me I hope they see my Lord and Saviour, I hope they feel his love flowing from me. In seeing me and feeling the love Jesus has for them it leads me to a place where I have their trust and confidence where they know who I am and what I am where they know I will not judge them or condemn them. In this safe relationship they can then ask the questions burning in their hearts and minds and because they respect and trust me as I have respected and trusted them my words can carry more weight than a street preacher or another form of outreach. I see this way of working as very similar to that of our Lord and Saviour, getting out there and on to the same level as the people who need Him more than anything else. Not presenting myself as anything special, not acting as if I am better than them, but being willing to serve them and work for their benefit. 

John 15:19
If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you.

We need to be in the world, how else could we complete the great commission that Jesus gave us? Yet we can not be of the world because to be so would mean that we had not accepted the Fathers love and have been saved. I think though that the "best" work done by missionaries, ministers and believers through the many centuries has been done when men and women of faith have been right on the line between being in the world and of the world. It is a hard place to be a Christian, it is open and exposed to the enemy and you are open to attack. Yet if our faith is strong and we can walk the line with Jesus at our side then we can do amazing work in this dark world. If more people were willing to leave their comfort zones, to put their faith into action I feel that we would see a true revival in our time, a revival that I hear many people calling for but see few taking action towards.

A while ago I posted about loving the unlovable and with this post I want to make that point again, we as followers of Christ should be getting out there and showing Christ's love in the many dark corners out there. We need to look hard at the example that Jesus left us and think about how we are acting as His disciples on earth now. Jesus preached to those who came to listen to Him, to those who wanted to know, but he also went out there and spent time with those who didn't on a level they could relate to, helping them without asking for anything in return knowing that in their own time they would seek him out. Love the unlovable, look for the lost, but don't force your expectations or desires onto them. Show these people the love of Christ, show them that Jesus is the one who will never give up on them through your actions. When their hearts are ready they will seek him out, it may not be the fastest road to conversion but a personal relationship with God will help these people more than any amount of sermons, study or preaching ever could.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Walking the walk, even if it is in the mud

Well I did intend to post before this but as usual life got in the way. Well I say life but what mean is I was busy at Leeds Festival.

For those who don't know I am a member of the Salvation Army and for the last two years we have run a ministry at a local music festival serving cheap alternatives to the wildly over priced food and providing for physical and spiritual welfare of the festival goers.

As I normally would attend the festival anyway this is a fantastic opportunity for me to be in my natural habitat yet still display to the world unashamedly that I am a Christian and that even though My Chemical Romance blew my mind serving Jesus will always come first for me. The chance to talk to other young people who normally would have nothing to do with Jesus, the Church or the Salvation Army is one that for me can not be missed. I also have to say hearing an appreciable fraction of Leeds Festival chanting about how amazing the Salvation Army is was a moment of pride I will never forget.

For me this is the sort of Christian behaviour we should always be aiming for, being in the world but not part of it. Showing the world we love them, yet also showing them how by being just a little different life can be so much better with Jesus. Walking the road that Jesus would want us to take, getting down and dirty with the unwashed (which with it being wet and muddy at Leeds Festival was oh so true this year). We may not have converted anyone at Leeds festival this year, but for us that was never the point, what we did do was sow thousands of seeds, plant tens of thousands of thoughts about why 65 people took on the challenge of taking care of 75,000 people living in a field for the weekend. Some of these seeds and thoughts will lead to people looking into the Salvation Army, finding out about the Church and Jesus for possibly the first time and maybe next year they will be ready for the conversation about how to have Jesus in their lives too.

Check out the coverage we got from the BBC

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I'm Back

Ok, firstly I will start with an apology. I have been a bad bad blogger, I have done the thing I hate most about people who post regularly on the internet. I disappeared with no notice. Like I said, bad bad blogger.

So Things are a little more settled for me, I have been in a new job for 6 months and I am settled in a lovely new apartment for the last 2 months. Things have not been easy for me in the last few months and there have been some stressful situations to battle through. However I am through the worst of this and I am now feeling much happier than I have been for some time.

Anyway so now I am back I hope to be able to post more regularly than once every 6 months but I don't want to commit to any sort of writing schedule until I know how this is going to work and how much time I can commit to the blog now. Saying this I am hoping to be able to post at least once a week if not more regularly.

So its great to be back guys, I hope you think the same and can forgive me for my negligence. I am working on my next post and hope it will be up soon.

Monday, February 28, 2011

SocIety and econoME

To begin with I need to say to a certain reader (you know who you are) thank you for a great discussion and debate about this subject. It has set off some fantastic thoughts in my head and has made me think hard about both my ideas about society and economy and my place in the world as a Christian.

Yesterday I was talking to a reader of this blog who I have come to think of as a friend about governments and societies. This was not kicked off as would be expected by the current situation in the middle east but by comparing the governments of the UK and the US. At times it was a fairly heated debate but always friendly and constructive, it showed our strong beliefs on both sides of the debate but also our mutual respect which I felt made the discussion much more constructive and firmly Christian. If my friend would like to write a response to this post I would be more than happy to link to it for you all to read.

So I have been thinking about how we take our place in society and how that sits for us as Christians. As Christians where do we stand in modern society and what should we be doing as Christians in society and should our faith be a deciding factor in voting.

When thinking about writing this post two words came came to my mind, society and economy and more specifically socIety and econoME. As a Christian we are taught that we should think about and serve our fellow man, we should look to help those in need and always look to help the poor. but what does this mean when it comes to society and economy? what does this mean in terms of the governments we should vote for and our outlook on our national and global states.

In my opinion I believe this means we should be looking towards governments who are trying to help as many people as possible. I believe we should be voting for governments who are looking to support everyone so that as many people as possible are helped and that care is provided for all. In a world where we are all looking at a financial situation that is not too good, that our societies are struggling to pay for all the services we have had in the past what should our thoughts on this be?

I think that we often fall in to the trap of thinking about what is it that I want out of society and in living in an economy where we are all encouraged to look after number one and being comfortable with that. It seems that at times we look after ourselves and then we look to how we can help people with what we have left. We think that as long as we are living comfortably then whatever we have left after that we can then use to help the people we should be helping.

This though is surely the wrong way to be thinking about it, surely we should be looking to the way that Jesus and then the Apostles and then the early Church lived and take the lead from there. If you look to how they lived then everything was held in common and everyone's basic needs were taken care of. After that then everything left over was used to help those who needed it and to further the work of God.

I am not suggesting however that we should all move our society towards some sort of communism, but I am suggesting that we should take the spirit of this culture and apply it to our own. I am however suggesting that we should look to take care of our basic needs and then look towards how we can use the rest to help those in need and to further God's Kingdom on Earth. We should not be looking at how I will look after myself, we should be trusting God because He has promised to care for us and protect us and so we will be take care of, we should be looking to see how we can help those who are in need. And we should be using this to show God to the world and teach this idea of giving to the world. If we are clothed and fed with a roof over our head and we have the equipment and provisions to do the work we need for God then we should be using the rest to help those in need.

I think I have go on enough for one post, I still have more I want to say on this subject so if you tune in tomorrow I will post part two of this comment on society and our Christian place in it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2 weeks of failure

Ok so today is supposed to be the Soldiers Challenge post which I have failed on for the last two weeks. The last time I posted on the Soldiers Challenge I posted the minimum that I needed to and have not attempted anything yet. So this week I wan getting back on the wagon and starting on to tasks again, the task I have pulled out of the hat is to buy a Christian t-shirt this week. So check back next week and find out how it went and my thoughts on being back on the Challenge wagon again.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I must be growing up

I have had a fantastic day. Normally me and my older brother do not get along that well, but today we spent hours together without a bad word said and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. So what was it that has made such a difference, well it is another symptom of my wanting to settle and grow up. This morning our Church had a coffee morning and my extended family were sat around and we were discussing my possible new job. Part of this discussion was that I will need a car for this job and I have been talking with my parents about the possibility of buying a new one. And so today I have been out looking at cars and test driving them with my brother.

We looked at a number of cars at a number of different dealers and talked a lot about the practicalities and needs compared to what is available and within the price range. It so happens that my brother is also buying a new car as well and we have been discussing the pros and cons of various cars that are available. As it turns out we may end up settling on buying cars from the same dealer and manufacturer but that is mainly to do with the fact that we both want a good car and don't want to pay a huge amount for it if we don't have too.

Although my life is in a state of flux and I am still really only in the early stages of sorting my life out after the mess I made of it during my teens and early twenties. But as I said yesterday it is amazing how much God can change someone's life and outlook in such a short space of time. I hope that this is a good sign towards my brother and I can sort things out and stop the continual infighting that there has been for the last twenty odd years. God moves in mysterious ways, I am glad He chose to work through the process of buying a car today as not only has it helped in my relationship with my brother but it was a huge amount of fun too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Am I growing up?

I have often prided myself on the fact that I have a real childish streak running though me, I do crazy things, I live a life without a care and love to be silly at every opportunity. But recently I have been noticing that I am not only growing up but also wanting to grow up. It is not that I want to get rid of my childish side as it brings a lot of fun into my life but I am beginning to feel that I want to be a little more grown up at times.

The example that has made this most clear in my head occurred today while I was taking care of my Godson. I have not spent much time looking after him on my own until recently but now he is a year old and is a little easier to take care of than a tiny baby I have been entrusted with him. Today while I had him I took him to the garden centre to go look at the pet store they have there and see all of the animals there. We had so much fun and the pair of us laughed and made a lot of noise and the pair of us thoroughly enjoyed the time there.

While I was there I realised that I was enjoying this time more than I ever thought I would and started to think that I could actually fancy a child of my own at some point. This is something huge for me as anyone who knows me will have no doubt heard me say at some point that I hate kids, really hate kids. This phrase has been one that I have used many many times in my life and something that I honestly believed for the whole time I have been saying so. But as I have been looking to my future, my career and where God and I want my life to go certain things have been changing.

I have always been someone who has wanted to globe trot and not put down roots anywhere, I wanted to always be someone who was able to travel the world and go where I wanted when I wanted. But now I am starting to realise that while there will be a certain amount of this in my life as I see God directing it I want a certain amount of settlement in my life. I want to have a home, a partner and now I am starting to realise that I would quite like a family too. I think this has come from the fact that without any intention of doing so I have managed to make myself a home. It is nowhere near where I grew up, away from my family, but it is the place where I feel happiest, where I feel comfortable and where I am surrounded by friends.

It is amazing how people can change over a short period of time, how much people change as they live their lives. But what is more amazing is how much and how quickly God can change someone from the inside out, how God can change the very essence of someone to make them into the very best thing they can be. I thank God for what my life is becoming and for the amazing changes he has helped me make in my life. Who knows where God will lead me in the future and what He will do with my life but after having seen what He has done so far I am excited to see where it will end up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

It's not just god who has plans

This post is something that has been on my mind for a few days now and something I have been hesitant to write about. The reason that I want to write about is because it is something that just will not go away and it is something I think we should all be concious of. However I am hesitant to write about it because the majority of this post will be about the enemy.

This post began due to the fact that I have been struggling and I have been thinking a lot about the plans that God has for me. I have been looking for signs and looking for direction form God, I feel that I know the beginnings of the outlines of the plan God has for me, I feel I know the direction but the details are sparse in places.

In thinking about the fact that God has plans for all of us I began to think about the fact that the enemy has very real plans as for what he wants us to do as well. The fact is that the enemy knows that God has plans for us and these plans are the very best, and so he will do anything he can to overcome these plans if he can. The enemy has plans, plans to destroy you, plans to harm you and plans to deny you of a hope and future.

The thing is that the enemy is very good at making his plans look fair, he is accomplished at making his plans attractive and alluring. The enemy is known in the Old Testament as the tempter and he is well deserving of that title as he is the original and most practised tempter in the universe.

We often talk about god and his plans, we mention Jesus and His love for the world and the Holy Spirit being in us and setting us on fire. But we forget about the fact that although the enemy is not perfect as God is and though his power is a fraction of His he is still throwing everything he has at us in an attempt to draw us away from the path we should be walking.

The enemy will tempt you in every way he can, he will send trials your way that will tempt you in ways that will break you and cause you to sin. The only way to successfully resist the enemy is to ask God for help, to pray ceaselessly that He will help you in your daily battle. There are going to be times when the devil will tempt you and cause you to sin, but if you accept the saving grace of Jesus and return to God with a repentant heart you will not be turned away. The best way to defend against a threat is to know it exists, don't ignore the enemy, do not belittle his power. He is very real and he has powers that are greater than we are, but God is greater still and it is only through Him that we can have eternal life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love the unlovable

1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NLT)
     See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.

Matthew 5:38-39 (NLT)
     “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.

Levictus 19:18 (NLT)
     “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

Mark 12:31 (NLT)
     The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’No other commandment is greater than these.

These four verses have been so close the the front of my mind today. I have said many times at work that I know that I should love the people I work with through my job, but if only they wouldn't make it so hard. Simply said I have had a tough day at work, it started with my being late and just went down hill from there.

I don't want to dwell on the facts of today and there isn't much I can say due to the nature of the work that I do but the thoughts it has raised in my mind I feel are worth talking about. It has come to my attention over the last two days that in the job I do, working with the homeless and addicts, I am often at a fair amount of personal risk. At any moment these people could fly off the handle and cause considerable harm to myself or my colleagues. Time and again I am let down by their actions and behaviour and will be many more times in the future. Yet day after day I go into work with the desire and enthusiasm to make a difference and to help. 

The thing that keeps me going, the reason I can go in day after day, especially after a couple of terrible days is that I know this is what God wants us all to do. He wants us to love the unloved, to help them and through showing them this love they will see that the Holy Spirit is in us and that God too loves them, and in a way much better than the way we love them.

But that is the problem, a lot of these people really are unlovable at times, they do and say things that cause you pain in one way or another and at times do everything they can to drive everyone away. Some people actually do not want to be loved, do not want help and certainly do not want to change, at least on the surface. Deep down I believe we all have a desire to find God and to be loved, it is something I believe is inbuilt into humans.

Even so, when Christ came to earth He loved without measure or boundaries, He helped indiscriminately and despite the fact He was let down in the most painful and terrible way He continued to love us all. I know that we are not Christ, that we will never be like Christ, but to try is surely pleasing in His eye. I pray daily for the strength to continue to work with these people who seem humanly unlovable, who try their best to push everyone away. 

As a friend reminded me the other day, not everyone who is unloved who is lost or in need of the Lord is homeless, I just have a passion for them as it is what God is calling me to do right now. But we are all surrounded by people who need us to bring the light of Jesus into their lives, there are people in all walks of life who need to see us living our Christian lives and have this light in their lives. The unloved and lost are all around us, they are crying out for something, they just don't see that it is Christ.

See that as a Christian you love your neighbour, that you try to do good to all who cross your path. We need to realise that revenge, even in out own minds is not acceptable behaviour. 

Love your neighbour.

Do good to each other.

Do not seek revenge.

Turn the other Cheek.

Follow the teachings from God and follow the examples of Christ, for these teachings and examples are perfection. If we do these things and pray for the strength to follow them daily them the life we are living will be good and pleasing to God. To live a life pleasing to God, what greater thing could you do?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm back

Ok guys, first off an apology for my unannounced absence and my complete lack of contact on here for a little while. I could give a list of reasons and make many excuses about my absence but all I really need to say is life got the better of me and I really didn't feel like blogging.

I want to take this opportunity to announce that my life is going to go through some major changes in the next few weeks and as such I have decided that from now on I will only be posting once a day. I know that it has been tough at times to keep up such a schedule and I know that it is going to get harder in the future. As I would rather produce good posts rather than sloppily produced ones I have decided that one post a day will be much more manageable.

So now that house keeping is out of the way I guess I should fill you in on some of what has happened since I last blogged. In that time I have been for an interview for a new job which went very well, I have been invited back for a second interview and a day to experience the outreach work I would be doing. Also I have applied for several other jobs which would also put me in the place and position I feel would be most beneficial for me and help me to follow Gods plans in my life right now. I am praying hard that this will all come to fruition soon and that I will receive good news on the 4th when I go for the second interview.

In addition to this I have had some problems in my relationship with God. My Bible study has not been great of late and has suffered more due to my lack of blogging and not picking up my Bible to check details and read passages that come to mind. While my prayer life has not dwindled it has not until the last few day felt very productive, it has at times felt as though I am just going through the motions and talking to thin air.

However yesterday I attended my first cell group in a month and for the first time in a month really felt that I was in the presence of God. After cell group I took the advice of a friend of mine and took a drive into the middle of nowhere and had a chat with God. I pulled over on the verge and turned off the engine and lights and spent about 10 minutes just sitting there. Eventually I felt that I was able to articulate the thoughts and feelings in my head into words to say to God. My friend told me that if I was angry with God I should tell Him, and to be honest I was ready to lose my temper and tell Him exactly what I thought about things.

However when I had everything straight in my head about the way I have felt and the things I have been thinking about I felt absolutely no anger at all. I found that what I really wanted to say was that I have felt lost of late, that I feel that I know where He wants me in the long run but the method of getting there is unclear to me right now. I have a few things that I want too, I want to move back to the city I love, I want to be near my friends and I want someone to share my life with. The last one is something I am really struggling with at the moment, I am at a point in my life where I really want to move on with my life and having someone to share that with would I think be amazing. But I don't want just anyone like I have tried in the past, I want someone who will make me more than what I am now in a way that is pleasing to God and will make me more productive than I am on my own.

When I got everything I wanted out of my system I realised that the thing that I wanted more than anything else was for God to do what He will with my life. I want to live my life in the way the God wants me to, to do the things He has asked of me. I want to want what God wants for me, I want to be and do everything that God wants of me and I know I can't do that without His help.

I have to be honest and say that I am struggling of late, I am not doing everything that I should and I know that I am being more worldly than I should. I know that I should not be too hard on my self and I know that one of my favourite sayings is that no one ever said being a Christian would be easy but to let things slide and not be worried or want to do something about it should be more worrying than the situation I am in at the moment. Knowing that there is a problem is the best place to start from in trying to fix that problem.

I came across a Bible quote that I think sums up perfectly the way things are in my life right now and the way that I am thinking.

Philippians 2:12(NIV paraphrased)
     work out your salvation with fear and trembling

I know that God has a plan for me, I trust that plan and want it to be all of my life more than anything else. I have a couple of selfish requests but I have committed myself to God and if what I want is not what He wants then I want to not want it. I know that sounds like gibberish but it is the way I feel and it is the best way I know to express it. This is what I want more than anything else and I know that it won't be easy and that I will never reach the goal, that I will likely not ever get close but my desire is to be a true follower of Christ and to server the Lord my God, your God, our God.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Write your mission statement

My mission;

I will live my life to the fullness making the most of every day. I will live my life with a burning passion to do everything God commands me to for the further extension of His kingdom.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (NIV)
     If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
     Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

It's a dark dark world out there

I was out getting my hair cut this morning and spent a while taking to the stylist while she was cutting my hair. The conversation inevitably moved onto work and what I do in my day to day life and I began to talk to her about my work with the homeless. While she was very interested in finding out what my work entailed she seemed not to understand my desire to help or how I could enjoy such work.

As we first began to talk about working with the homeless my stylist presented the usual questions and reactions that people have due to the stereotypes there are about homelessness. Her impression was the same as most peoples is that homeless people are all drug and and drink addled and that for most of them it is their fault and choice being on the streets.

I tried to explain to her the nature and reality of homelessness but for the first real time I came across someone who was resistant to the idea that there could be genuine need and a genuine desire for change in these people. She seemed to hold on to the ideas that she has formed through her life and seemed not to want to listen to any evidence to the contrary.

I was wondering about this when I got home and thought about how many similar minded people there maybe out there in the world. I thought about the fact that part of the problem for the homeless is that many people have ideas about them that make changing their lives and improving their position very difficult. The route of the problem as I see it is a lack of love for fellow men in the world, a lack of a desire to help and a lack of charity. I look round and see a dark world that rejects Christ and rejects all that He stood and stands for. There is a song on my ipod by Good Charlotte called All Black in which there is a line that comes to my mind when I think about this.

"It's a dark dark world and there's evil out there
And you know it's only getting worse

I see a very dark world out there, I see evil and I can see plenty of evidence too that points to the fact that it is only getting worse. We sit in our comfortable houses in our safe places professing to be Christians. For me I feel that we should be out in the world trying to shine the light of Christ into every possible corner that we can. If we serve Christ we should love all men, we should serve all men and we should show charity to those who need it and help in every way we can. 

I know that it is very easy to say such things and another to put them into action. I know that sometimes we can feel worn down and find it difficult enough to do things for ourselves never mind for those who have neither the will to help themselves or to be helped by others. There are times when I myself want nothing more than to do nothing, to relax and not to have others relying on me for things. But it is times like this that we should look to God for strength and resolve to go about the business we know we should be doing. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Is Jesus the light of your heart?

I know I have talked about callings a number of times, and I have talked about my own calling a few times without really expanding on it, which I will do one day. I have been struggling with things recently, self doubts, problems with the logistics and at times I have felt a little bit like Sisyphus. Not many people know this as I have been trying to keep a positive face to the world and have been trying to trust that it will all work out right.

I mentioned last night that I attended a study group for people who feel they are being called to God's work. During this session there were a couple of not to lightly veiled references to the fact that it has taken me some time to get everything I need to do for the current stage of the process  I am on done and some of it is still outstanding. After a small amount of discussion I made the point that I had been taking my time to ensure I had done everything to my satisfaction and that I feel no pressure from God to do things any quicker than I am.

I know what it is that I feel God is calling me to do and I am confident that in this I do have things the right way round. But there is a raft of things that I feel God is directing me towards doing before I officially commit to what it is He wants me to do. It is sometimes difficult for me to explain the reasons for doing what it is I feel I need to be doing, and if I am completely honest often I do not know why I am doing what I am doing more than half of the time, I just know it is the right thing to do. Because of this I find it is often difficult for other people to understand my "reasoning" behind the things I do, and I find it very difficult to explain my "reasoning" too.

The thing that keeps me going on the track that I am on and that keeps me faithful despite the fact that I often don't know where it is I am going is because Jesus is the light of my heart. Since giving my heart to Jesus I have never been let down by Him, every time I put my trust in Him I am amazed at the blessings He heaps onto me. I know that God is there for me in all things, good and bad, that no matter what the world and the enemy throw at me that God is greater and that He has greater plans for me just around the corner. Since allowing Jesus into my heart to become the light in there I have found that He has worked such a change. Life is not any easier or less painful, there are still many things I need to change about my life, but there have been so many changes and blessings so far that I look forward to looking back over my whole life and seeing how much He will do in all my life. I hope I can always put my whole trust in God and that I can always follow His direction.

Time to stop for 5

Do you ever feel as though the world is just moving too fast for you? For me recently so much has been going on at home and at work and in my private life that I feel as though I have hardly stopped. It feels at times that I almost have to sprint to keep up with the pace of things.

Normally I love things being wild and crazy and love things to be fast paced so that I don't get bored. But recently I feel as if I have had no personal time, no relaxation time and most worryingly of all very little time with God.

This isn't to say I have had no time with God and that I have not seen some amazing results from prayer. I have seen God answer my prayers about jobs in that I have been offered a job interview that would put me where I would love to be and feel happiest. I have also found that a friend of mine may also be moving into the same area and was also told last night the great news that she may also be following a similar path with God into His ministry.

I know that time is likely to be an issue at least for the next few weeks, and if I get the job on Tuesday time is going to become even more scarce for the next month or two. However I feel that if I can manage to get some time with God sorted then the pressure will not feel so much and I will be more than able to get through anything life has to throw at me.

Although I have felt rushed and under pressure recently I am hoping that these are but birth pains of me moving on to things that are bigger and better. I hope that I will be moving on to a better job and thus be moving into my own place and making some moves into adulthood that have been in some people's opinions too long in coming. Whatever the outcome I am confident that God has a plan and I am confident that it will be a great plan, I just hope that for once God and I are on the same song sheet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vocational fellowship

Tonight I attended something that a number of people have been asking me to go to for a long time. As I have said that I feel God is calling me to work for Him a number of people have directed me towards things that will help me in this journey. One of these events is the vocational fellowship group meeting that I attended tonight.

The group is a collection of people who all feel called to god's work in some way and there is a range of ages in attendance. There is a wide range of backgrounds present and it provides an interesting mix of ideas and views in the group.

This is only the first time I attended and I don't want to say too much about it, but I did really enjoy attending and hope that I will continue to be able to attend into the future. I am looking forward to continue attending in order to work through the study they are doing together, "If you want to walk on water then you have to get out of the boat". It is a study people have said good things about to me and that people have advised me to look at, as a member of this group it will be good to go through it with these people who are all on a similar journey.

How much do you love Jesus?

A few weeks ago a friend rang me up and fired this question at me. I have to say that at the time the question threw me off balance and to be honest I am a little bit ashamed of the reply I gave. As I wasn't expecting such a question to be thrown at me like that me reply was, "erm quite a bit".

Since then the question has been running through my head a fair bit and I have been thinking about the different ways that I answer the question. I don't mean what reply I give in a moment of surprise when a friend rings but rather how the way I live, the way I act and the words I say show the people who surround me what Jesus means to me.

If I love Jesus then everything about my life will shout to the world that I love, follow and serve our Lord. If I love Jesus then I will make the effort to go out into the world and show my love for Him and His love for the world.

True love for the Lord is not something that it is possible to hide, true love for the Lord is something that will shine through and illuminate the world around you. When you love the Lord then changes will occur in your life that people around you will notice such a change that they will want to know what it is about you that makes you different.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV)
The Fulfillment of the Law 
     “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

God knows what He is doing

My parents have a habit which drives me to absolute insanity, they are both unashamed channel hoppers. You can be watching something and then out of nowhere they will skip through hundreds of channels, then decide there is nothing on, announce that TV is rubbish and turn it back to the channel you were watching just in time to catch the credits, gee thanks Mam and Dad.

But the other day when my mum did this she landed on a TV show I have never watched called Touched by and Angel. As I said I have never seen this show before and have no desire to ever watch it in the future. However the one sentence of the show I did hear did catch my attention.

"God always knows what He is doing, sometimes that is the hardest part to accept"
               Monica Touched by an angel

I was struck at how true this statement is. As Christians we should all accept that God has a plan and He knows exactly what it is that He is doing. His plan is the Master Plan, a plan to end all plans and the only one that is sure to work. It is a perfect plan that we should accept without question, but its not that easy is it?

We are human, we have doubts and because we are not perfect and know it we can sometimes struggle to understand a plan that has no flaws, that unlike us is perfect. As the quote says accepting that this plan is perfect and God does know what He is doing is often hard to accept. Things happen in our lives that we struggle to understand, that we can not see how they fit into the plan. Yet fit into the plan they do and it is not our place to question how or why.

God always knows what he is doing. Accept that and follow his plans and you will find yourself not living an easy life but certainly living a truly blessed life.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

New glasses

Today I returned to the opticians to pick up my new glasses. At first when I put them on things seemed a little strange, having spent nearly two years without wearing glasses properly I now had two pairs. I put a pair on to walk back to my can and decided to keep them on during the drive home in an attempt to become used to wearing them again.

I was amazed at the difference the glasses made to my vision, especially since people in the opticians kept telling me that they are a low prescription. Everything came back into focus perfectly and things that I did not realise had been blurry were sharpened. To put it simply with the new glasses have made a real difference and I can now see so much better than before.

The parallels between my new glasses and my Bible may not at first be clear to everyone but bear with me on it. When I first returned to the Church and really became a Christian I soon learned that I needed to spend a lot of time reading my Bible. For me this had the same effect in my spiritual life as my glasses have had with my sight. As I learned what it really was to be a true follower of Christ, as I learned what it was that God required of me I began to see much clearer the issues and problems in my life and where I needed Christ to come in and work His miracles.

As time has gone on I have seen amazing and fantastic changes in my life and each time I have taken the steps God has wanted me to He has blessed me in ways I couldn't imagine. In walking the path God has set me I have and continue to see aspects of my life that do not look good when viewed through the spiritual eyes God gives us. However I have also seen ways to fix these by using His help and have learned that the best way to become a better Christian is to ask God to help. I know that we will all always need God's help as we will never be perfect, but it is nice to look back with the same spiritual eyes that find the faults and see all the great progress that has been made.

In other new guys, today I was told that I had an interview for the job I would desperately love to do. It is an opportunity that has everything that I would love to have, the type of work I want to do and in the city I want to live in with the added bonus of being surrounded by all my friends. If I could ask you all to pray that the interview next Tuesday goes well and that I may hopefully get this job. Thanking you for all your prayers so far and in advance for all those prayers I know you will continue to say.

Man flu.. Although this time it may be real flu

Well guys, today I almost gave in and came very close to calling a sick day. I have been battling with flu for the last 5 days and have barely had the energy or ability to get out of bed. I will be the first to admit that I am not the best patient and I am a particularly grumpy person when ill, but luckily I don't usually get ill very often so it balances out in the end at least that is what I tell my family. Because I have not been feeling great trawling the net and looking for things to write on has not really happened at all. Saying that though I did come across a fantastic twitter feed this weekend which is @CSLewisDaily, the name pretty much sums up what it is, everyday there is a different C S Lewis quote posted.

I have never been a particular fan of C S Lewis, in fact when I was a kid I tried to read the Chronicles of Narnia and found them a bit dry and boring. However recently at the insistence and recommendation from a friend I have been giving his work a chance and reading through various books and stories he wrote. I have come to have a lot of respect for this man and the way he manages to articulate my beliefs and experiences of Christianity in to a elegant and concise way.

One interesting quote that I came across when reading this feed I have shared bellow;

When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.

The reason why I like this quote so much is because it is something that I can attest to with much experience. As someone who is actively trying to improve my life in every way, rebuilding from a past of being everything I shouldn't have been I can relate to this quote. Regularly I find that I am catching myself thinking things or about to do things I used to do in the past but are incompatible with my Christian life. The more I grow in my faith the more I realise that there is an innate sinful nature in us all and it is something that we always need to be watchful for. Although we do all have this sinful nature that is a part of us we do not need to be controlled by it or be a slave to it. When we know it exists and is there then we are in a much better place to protect ourselves from it.

Monday, February 07, 2011

You are blessed when...

It's that time again, the linked Bible study. This month Caron has decided that we should look the Beatitudes for inspiration and so this months linked post is on Matthew 5:1-12. In addition to this we have special guest blogger Tamzin joining in with the fun. Please check out the thoughts the other two have had as they are both very wise and knowledgeable. So without further ado here goes;

Just to let you guys know, this is the third post I have written on this passage. At first I thought that I may use the Monty Python blessed are the cheese makers scene but after getting about half way into it I decided that I did not like what I had written and so began again.This time I used a quote from one of my favourite writers, Terry Pratchett which was based on the line blessed are the meek, but again I decided I did not like the direction it was going in. So here goes my third and hopefully final attempt to write on the Beatitudes.

Matthew 5:1-12
     Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:
     “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
     Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
     Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
     Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
     Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
     Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
     Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

     “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

This is a passage we have all read or heard taught before, it is one of the most well know of Bible passages so much that it has passed into popular culture in things like Monty Python's Life of Brian. But for me I find that the most important part of the passage is the last two verses. We all know about the actions we should do for Christ and the rewards and blessing we and people with these attributes receive. But we seem to forget the warning we receive about the bad things that are likely to happen to us as a result of following Christ.

In our modern world we have become comfortable and tolerant of people and their "lifestyle" choices. Because of this we tend to sit back and take a somewhat relaxed view on things that we don't want to rock the boat we don't want to be the group people dislike because of our actions.

But Christ tells us that every time we are insulted, discredited or hated for our lives in Christ then we are blessed.We should be happy and give cheer when these things happen to us, when the enemy is fighting back against us with all he has, at this point we have the hosts of angels cheering us on, the saints of the past praying for our success. We truly are in the best of company when we are under attack in this way, for the followers of God and Christ have never had it easy and have faced much adversity in the past. Blessed are those who follow Christ through adversity for they will know true happiness in Heaven.

How deep the Father's love for us

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I knoww that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Last night we sang this song at Church and the way it was used and the context of the meeting it was a really powerful moment. For me specifically the three verses highlighted have a particularly strong message. Within these three verses there are a couple of lines that speak to me in due to the life I used to have and the way I used to live. These lines are "Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, Call out among the scoffers" and "It was my sin that held Him there, Until it was accomplished".

However I know that I need not worry about my past life and sins because I know that Jesus has entered my life and is working on fixing the flaws from the inside. I know that I can see the changes myself and hope that the world can see that I am a changed man but also that they see that Christ is the cause of that change. Learning to rely on God's plan and power instead of the small intelligence and skills I have.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sing a Christian song in the shower

Well this task was a little bit of a weird one I thought. Not that I am against singing, or showers but I am not one who tends to couple the two activities. In addition to this as I am currently living home with my parents I tend to take advantage of the spa bath my parents have and go for that option rather than shower. But nevertheless I decided I would do the task all be it with some small differences, I would sing a Christian song but it would be in the bath instead of the shower.

The song I sang was one that I remember particularly well, mostly because it was the first Christian song I learned to play on my guitar. It is the song these are the days of Elijah, now I wouldn't say that his is my favourite song, not by a long way, but as it is the go to chord pattern I tend to strum out when I pick up a guitar and I had been practising before my bath it was already in my head. The lyrics are as follows;

These are the days of Elijah 
Declaring the Word of the Lord 
And these are the days of his servant, Moses 
Righteousness being restored 
And these are the days of great trial 
Of famine and darkness and sword 
So we are the voice in the desert crying 
Prepare ye the way of the Lord 

Behold he comes 
Riding on a cloud 
Shining like the sun 
At the trumpet's call 
Lift your voice 
It's the year of jubilee 
Out of Zion's hill salvation comes 

And these are the days of Ezekiel 
The dry bones becoming as flesh 
And these are the days of his servant, David 
Building the temple of praise 
And these are the days of the harvest 
The fields are all white in your world 
And we are the laborers that are in your vineyard 
Declaring the word of the Lord 

Behold he comes 
Riding on a cloud 
Shining like the sun 
At the trumpet's call 
Lift your voice 
It's the year of jubilee 
Out of Zion's hill salvation comes

Now I can certainly say that if anyone heard me singing that this week they would not have enjoyed it. I have spent the last couple of days fighting off a bad cold and I have a red raw throat and a terrible cough which has caused me to sound like my vocal chords have had serious abuse from a piece of sand paper. Nevertheless I actually had a lot of fun doing it, allowing myself to just go for it and enjoy the novelty of it.

So the task for the coming week was selected from the hat at random as usual and the task I will be completing this week is to write out my own mission statement. Check back next week to read it, until then have a great week and check back each day to read my thoughts and ramblings. 

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A love like Jesus from Egyptian Christians

I have so far avoided talking about the problems in Egypt so far as I have not really had the time to fully understand what is going on. I have seen the pictures in the news and have seen some very disturbing images from various media channels. Possibly the worst I have personally seen is the video of a green van running down people in the street, I have provided a link to the video but would advise discretion as it is very disturbing. Each night while watching the news with my parents the stories from Egypt inevitably become a talking point with my parents talking about the time they spent there.

But the story I really want to talk about has its roots a little further back than the riots. During New Years Mass at a Coptic Church in Alexandria a suicide attack left 23 Coptic Christians dead and 97 others injured. The Coptic Church faces many threats from Islamist extremists and have faced adversity many times and while they are "free" to practice their religion in reality the legal system makes it as difficult as it can for Christians. In the aftermath of the attack subsequent attacks were suspected and it appeared as if the situation could easily escalate and more attacks on the Coptic community could follow.

Roll on to the recent riots from the Egyptian population in their attempts to force a regime change in their country and an amazing sight of Christian love from Egyptian Christians for their Muslim neighbours. Now don't get me wrong I have not made the mistake of labelling all Muslims as extremists and I am fully aware that Islam is a peaceful religion. But for me the image below shows Christians living out the very essence and teachings of Christ.

Egyptian Christians protecting their Muslim neighbours as they pray in Tahir Square.
Picture from The Islamist Workplace.

Luke 10:29-37 (NIV)
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

I don't think anyone could blame the Christians of Egypt if they decided to shy away and find somewhere safe for themselves. I think people could even understand the Christians of Egypt not wanting to risk their own lives for the sake of a religion and community that has in the past been openly hostile towards them and through legislation tries to make their lives as difficult as possible. I think It could also be understood that a community that has the extreme wings of the Islamists could have become an object of hate for them. But these Christians at considerable danger to themselves are living out the teachings of Christ, loving their neighbour, serving their neighbours loving those who have hated them for their love of Christ and with no real reward for themselves. To create a human shield to try and protect their Muslim neighbours takes real conviction and a love like that of Jesus.

Matthew 10:22 (NIV)
     All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

We have been told, taught and warned that because of our love for the Lord we will be the object of hate. But through the strength we are given through Christ we can stand firm and be safe in the knowledge that Christ sees our actions and will reward us for our faith. Those of us who can stand firm in the face of adversity and love our fellow man will be saved. The truth that we need to remember is that we can all stand firm if we rely on the power and strength of Christ instead of our own strength.

Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
     I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Egypt as they go through this troubled and violent time. My prayers are that this situation can be solved with the least amount of further bloodshed and violence. I also pray that whatever the outcome of the unrest in Egypt right now that the result will be a country that is free open and democratic, a country that is respectful of all people regardless of their religion. I also pray that we can all learn from the example set by these brave Christians as they live out their beliefs and the teachings of Christ that we too can do the same in whatever circumstance we find ourself in even if we have to place ourselves at risk to do so.

Judge lest not ye be judged

Luke 6:37-38
     "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back-given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

Luke 6:37-38 (NIV)
     “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

It can be so tough to live up to the ideal that we have been left with as Christians. Do not judge, do not condemn, forgive and give. These four traits are at times extremely difficult to stick to, it is so easy to criticize people when they fail especially when they fail you.

Everyone knows the phrase do unto others as you would want done unto you. But thinking about it this was is possibly one of the best ways to view these verses, the end of the passage even says so itself.

"Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back-given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

When you place yourself in the situations of others it becomes easier to forgive, to not condemn to not judge and to give. When you place yourself in their position you realise how easy it is to make the mistakes they have made and how easily you could be in the same position.

When we follow the directions and begin not to judge, not to condemn, to forgive and to give in my experience you do indeed receive with the same measure, but that measure is given back many times over.

Friday, February 04, 2011


2 Corinthians 3:4-6
     We couldn't be more sure of ourselves in this-that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn't think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn't written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing your spirit. It's written with Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!

I got a letter this morning, it is not something that happens much any more. Almost everything people send me comes electronically so when the postman drops something through the door with my name on it it is a little bit of a surprise. The letter that came was not really anything too important and but there is still that moment of excitement that accompanies the arrival of a letter.

Letters are something that are common in the New Testament, letters were one of the few ways of communicating long distances back then. If you were wanting to send a message or let people know something without personally going yourself then you sent a letter.

In this passage Paul is talking about the letters of recommendation that travelling preachers and evangelists would carry so that people would know who they were and with who's authority they preached with.

But Paul says in this passage that true Christians do not need letters of recommendation as it should be evident if we have been sent by God as He will write it on our hearts and people will know because the Spirit will be working through us. The letter that God writes on us, if His life is on our life then we need no physical ink and paper letter as His power will be evident through our actions.

I would like to think that God can be seen in the actions I perform and in the work that I do, that I have God's words written on my soul by the Spirit. I would hope that I can show God in all of the things that I do and that I can bring in some small way a ray of His light in to corners that may be dim and dark. 

Amazed by nature

My family think I am stupid at times, despite the qualifications and the higher level education they think some of the questions I ask are just plain daft. And I would be willing to admit that on the surface they appear to be, but on further though I think not. An example of one of these questions is;

"Why don't rivers run out of water?"

I know that in some places with little rain fall they do, but in the UK where I live we get a lot of rain and our rivers do not run dry, at least not often. The thing is when you think of the amount of water needed to fill the river, and then the speed the river flows at it is a phenomenal amount of water.

And it is not just questions like this, even things I understand and have quite a high level of knowledge on such as fluid dynamics AKA wind I am still amazed by. How can something as insubstantial as air, something invisible be the cause of so much destruction? How can it be so forceful and powerful? Like I say I understand the answers to this question but I am still constantly amazed and awed by nature.

There is a song that is sung by the choir at my Church and at the moment I can not remember enough about it to find the lyrics. The whole song in my memory and defiantly the lines I remember speak of God's awesomeness and the power of the nature He controls;

The mighty oceans thunder His awe inspiring name,
The breakers crash are roar with joy as they claim His victory,

I wish I knew more of the song to share with you, if anyone does know it let me know as I am sure there is a whole post in that song. 

The thing is that God is an awesome God, He is powerful and the things He does and the things He has made will always surpass our understanding, even if we think we know all we need about them. There are so many things in this world that we just take for granted, so many things that should blow our minds to the point where we would get almost nothing done. But we have made them into mundane things not to worry or think about in order that we do not get distracted. I think that at times we all need to take time out to go and be overwhelmed by God's awesomeness through nature and the universe. His whole creation is so fantastic that we can not dwell on it every day otherwise we would never be able to do His work. But from time to time go out and experience this wonderful world He has made for us and allow your mind to be awed by the beauty and scope of His work. 

Thursday, February 03, 2011

A prayer request

This post is going to be quite a short one. Today I sent off an application for an almost perfect job. It would give me the experience that I want, working with the types of people I want and is in the city I want to live in so I would be surrounded by all my friends.

Today I sent off for an application form and sat down at work and completed it and sent it straight off. My manager at work was very supportive with his comments about any references I may need for it and that although he would be sad to see me go he would be happy that I am moving on to better things. This job application has given me a boost that I have not had in quite some time. I was beginning to feel that things were beginning to stall and that I was going to struggle to find a job to tide me over until I go off and do what I intend to do.

I know I have not even been offered an interview as yet and I know that the chances of me getting the job are possibly small. But I have all of the required qualifications and have experience in the field of work that it is and it sounds like an almost perfect opportunity. I guess the real point of this post is to ask if you guys could pray for this job application for me, it would mean so much for me if I got this job and would afford me so many opportunities and the chance to live near my friends again. So if you could all pray for me I would be so thankful.