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

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.

Do you love your brother?

1 John 4:20-21
     If anyone boasts, "I love God," and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won't love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can't see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You've got to love both.

This is a concept that I will willingly admit to struggling with, there are certain people who at times cause me to come very close to breaking this commandment. I would not say that I go so far as hating anyone but at times certain people in certain situations have caused me to think some distinctly unchristlike thoughts.

I know that in being a Christian we should aim to be Christlike, to act as He acted and to love as He loved and I know this includes loving the unlovable. I know that this is axiomatic but it is something that we should not just brush over, something we should explore and consider carefully. I know that loving the unlovable is a paradox but through Him all things impossible become possible. If we have accepted God and the Spirit has come on us and dwells within us then these things that are humanly impossible become possible.

I was asked a little while ago by my minister about my feelings regarding my ex, what feelings remained, did I hate her or was there a part of me that still loved her. The answer I gave surprised me more than I think it surprised her. The reason being the one person in the world who has done more to hurt me than anyone else, the one person who in the eyes of the world I would have a justified cause to hate I don't. No matter how I think about it, no matter how much the memories hurt I can not bring myself to hate the person I once loved so much. I would also say that there is likely to always be a part of me that remembers and longs for the good times between us, she will always be a part of my heart even if it is a very small part.

On the flip side of this there is a particular client I have cause to deal with at work who would certainly be the cause of many a tarnished halo. He is a particularly difficult person to work with, he is one of those people who goes out of his way to provoke a response from people, someone so in need of attention he will do anything to get it even if it is negative attention. He works out exactly which buttons to press and works out which subjects are most likely to get a rise out of each individual. All of the staff at work to our shame have at times avoided this person and passed him off to a colleague and is the subject of much venting in the staff rooms. I felt particularly shamed the other day when one of my colleagues passed comment that as I intend to give my life to full time ministry and this person was getting to me it was particularly bad. Now all of my colleagues and most of the residents I work with know I am a Christian and most also know I intend to give my life to God's work and I felt I had let God down by my actions in this subject.

How can I someone who is a practising Christian and who is determined to do everything I need to to grown in the faith, someone who has grown to the point of being able to forgive the one person in the world who truly hurt me not feel the fraternal love towards this one person. I know that we are not Christ and that we will never be close to being Him, but we have to try. I know that I should be asking the Lord for help in this matter and hopefully God can use me as the person who can make a difference in this person's life. I pray that God will grant me the patience and the grace to work with this resident and that He will keep my feathers unruffled. If I am to boast that "I love God" then I must also be able to boast "I love all my brothers" too, I know this won't happen over night and will be something I am likely to need to work on for my whole life, but I do love God and so through Him I must learn to love my brother too.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The fruits of the spirit - II

Galatians 5:22-23
     But the fruit of the Spirit is 
                            and self-control
Against such things there is no law.

This mornings post was on the fruits of the Spirit, since then I have had some time to think about these fruits and what they mean. It has almost become a topic that has become an obsession with the song that has been in my head through to God giving me direction to write this second post today. It has been one of those days where God has decided to be unsubtle, there have been many and frequent signs of fruit today and many situations where the fruits have been needed but also been shown through others. This has come in the form of the six crates of bananas and 12 cases of cherries at work meaning everyone I have seen at work has been carrying fruit, to the man at the museum today showing patience and kindness towards the residents I took along for a day out.

I am not sure where I read it, but recently I read a blog post about the fruits. In this post the writer talked about how people who have the Spirit within them will naturally begin to produce and display fruits. When I read this and while writing my two posts on the fruit of the Spirit I have gone through the list and thought about which of the fruits I posses.

The first one on the list is one that I struggle with at the moment, I know that there are people that I do love, I love all my family and friends, I love my Godson more than anyone or any thing. But there are things I struggle with in love, I struggle with romantic love since my last big relationship and I still struggle to have love for all fellow man at times. However I am getting better at this and since I took on my job with the homeless I have found that I am finding myself with more understanding for my fellow man.

Joy is something that I have never struggled with, even in my darkest days and toughest times I have never struggled with being joyful. I have always been able to see the good in my life and enjoy my life.

Peace and patience for me come as a pair. In my family I am often the one who needs patience and by having it manage to keep the peace. Patience is something that I have developed in my life and I know that when very stressed it sometimes goes out the window but it is something I have developed over the years. Keeping the peace is also something I have had to work on in both my family and work life and something I have found is an ability that is growing in time.

Another pair for me is kindness and goodness. Being kind and good is something that all Christians really should be, it is something the world expects us to be. Being kind and good is something that everyone who has heard of Him knows Christ was. I have tried always to be kind and good but have at times struggled to be at all times. There are situations in life that have and do drive me mad and cause me to be anything but good and kind, but again I do try.

Faithfulness is something I definitely do not struggle with, I believe myself to be a very faithful person who is willing to do anything I can for the people I love. With the exception of the time I ran away from God and the Church I can not think of a single time when I could have been classed as unfaithful.

Gentleness is another trait that I feel that I do posses. I love animals and have had many many pets in my life, many of which were small animals and require very gentle handling. Also I do have a very gentle side to my personality, however it is often hidden from general view and people often do not see it until I allow them to become quite close. So I guess this is a trait I have but need to so some real work on.

The last trait in the list is self control. Now until a year ago I would say that I really struggled with this last trait. I have in the past had many problems with doing things on impulse and an inability to say no to things that I really want, and at times just things that it was possible to have. This has led to many negative impacts on my life, however since I became a Christian, since I truly became a Christian this is something I have found easier to keep on top of, I guess in a simple way, I have developed self-control.

Without trying to sound big headed I feel that I certainly display at least some of the fruits of the Spirit. I feel that it is something that as I am growing in the faith the fruits that I am displaying are also growing, which for me is a fantastic sign that I am truly growing in the spirit. I think it is a good thing that we all sit down and consider how we are doing in the faith, if we are growing fruits for the Lord. I would encourage you all to look at the list and consider are you growing fruits, if not, is there something you can do, if you are can you possibly grow more?

The fruits of the spirit

Galatians 5:22-23
     But the fruit of the Spirit is 
                            and self-control
Against such things there is no law.

I have had a song running round my head for simply week, weeks and weeks and weeks. It has been bugging me so much for so long because I knew the tune and some of the words, but it has been that long since I sang them and I was that young at the time that I don't think I was singing the right words.

I finally bit the bullet the other day and decided to ask my friends who I thought may know the song and be able to tell me the words. After a few false starts of friends who knew the song but also could not remember the words one friend finally said they knew both the song and where to find the words. I was pleased to have found someone who could help me with this problem and would hopefully be able to give me the words. But she decided that she would make me suffer saying that as she had given me the first line I would be able to find it myself and learn something about the song.

Now this really annoyed me, I had spent ages searching for this song and I had known the firsat line all along. Did she not think I had searched and searched for this song, here was I so close to finally putting this annoying situation to bed and she wasn't going to help me. However before I complained I decided that I would indeed do one last search and see what came up. What I hadn't at first realised was that my friend had given me one valuable gem of information.

My friend had told me the name of the writers of the song, the infamous Salvation Army duo Gowans and Larson. With this small extra piece of information I was able to find the song and as my friend had obviously wanted me to do I had learned something about the song too. The song is from the musical Spirit which was written by Gowans and Larson and if you visit the link you can find out about the musical too.

Anyway the song goes as follows;

Now the fruit of the Spirit is patience,
And the fruit of the Spirit is peace,
The fruit of the Spirit is gentleness,
And joy that will never cease.
The gift of the Spirit is healing,
And hope for the darkest hour,
The gift of the Spirit is love,
yes, love and power, and power.
     From the musical Spirit (Gowans and Larson)

I intend to write more on the fruits of the spirit in the future, hopefully if I have the time to do the research and time to write it today it will follow this post.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Eye test

Today I went for an eye test. Its been a long time since I was last at the optician and I knew I was going to need new glasses and was not looking forward to the expense this was going to cause me.

Now before I went I had planned to write a post based on eyes and seeing and how we often stumble around blind. But then after my eye test I got talking with the optician who was a lovely young lady from Glasgow. During the conversation we got on to talking about what it was that I do for a living and she was very interested in both my job and my motivation for doing it. This conversation was one of those fantastic opportunities to profess my faith and talk about the work I do.

It has frequently amazed me recently how many people there are out there who when I talk with them and begin to talk about my work and faith they become very interested and supportive of it. This is a much different experience to when in the past I was deeply involved with the science community. When I was studying and working in Physics I often came across hostility towards my faith and the basis of these beliefs.

Back then I used to put this down to the fact that in general scientists are anti religion and anti Christianity. However the more experiences I have talking about my faith recently I am beginning to change my mind about this theory. The reason for this I believe is that in the past I had a very shallow faith that was based on not much at all. This is probably why I found it so easy to shrug off when it didn't suit me. Whereas now my faith is based on a real relationship with God and from that comes a real passion to talk about it and a desire to do His work.

When people see that you are not only professing a faith but also acting on it too then it places you in a whole different position. If you are talking about a subject hypocritically, all talk and no walk, then they are not going to take you seriously. I know that there is much that I still need to learn, there is far I need to walk as with any other Christian, but I am buoyed by the positive experiences I have had and continue to have. I am also pleased that these opportunities to profess my faith are available and that I am becoming much more confident in professing it too.

Smashing stereotypes

Yesterday afternoon I had one of the best times I have had yet in the short time I have been working at my current job. I was recently asked if I would be willing to present a short meeting to the older ladies of my Church in their weekly home league meeting and if I would talk about working with the homeless. Now I am aware that I have only worked with the homeless for a short period of time and my knowledge and experience is slightly lacking, however I had a great idea and accepted.

So yesterday afternoon I went along to the meeting and gave them a meeting unlike anything they are used to or were expecting. It took a little arranging with my managers and colleagues but I managed to arrange to take some of the residents of the homeless shelter I work in along to the meeting with me and allowed them to speak of their experiences and thoughts on homelessness and living in a homeless shelter.

The meeting was more of a question and answer session which seemed to work quite well and seeing the reactions of the audience to some of the replies and stories was interesting. At the beginning of the meeting the audience were expecting what most people without experience with the homeless would assume. These guys must be homeless for a reason, they are possibly lazy or a victim of their own devices, uneducated and uncivilized. However after a short amount of time listening to the stories and history of the residents you could see the audience beginning to realise that these are normal everyday people you could easily pass in the street. They began to realise that for a few situations and circumstances being slightly different these guys could be living a "normal" life and it could be us in their position.

I know that since I first began working with the homeless I have had many up and down times, I have had great days where it seems you could possibly fix all the problems and then others where it seems there is no way to make any progress. In these experiences I have learned to value these people and the skills they can bring, I have learned that there can indeed be many diamonds in the rough. I am not saying that there are not problems, that there are not people not wanting of help or not extremely difficult to help. But I have come to realise that acceptance of who these people are, of the way they are is the beginning. I have realised that in seeing the good in each of them you can begin to bring it out and how them a life very different to what they currently live.

We are all victims of stereotyping and we are all guilty of propagating stereotypes through both the way we act and how we think of others. Sometimes we need to sit and think, or listen to the world around us and realise that behind every stereotype is a person, behind every mask is a soul in hiding.

Jesus was always smashing through stereotypes with both His actions and the interactions He had with others. He was not one to ignore someone because they had been painted in a certain light by society, He was not one to judge someone for a situation or circumstance they were currently in. Instead He look inside to the good each of them had inside and found a way to let it out. This is something I have learned in association with the homeless and need to apply in all walks of my life, as Christians it is something we should all be doing with everyone we meet.