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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Friends, Family, Fun, and.....Home!

Had a great weekend. Got to see Ros and Dave again, treated to a very delicious pasta bake at their house (thanks Dave!) and then spent the evening chilling out with Helen and Ros...was lush and i loved it!

Then home proper (i.e. not Cardiff!) for the rest of the weekend...

Involved taking my bro on his paper round in the early-ish hours of Saturday and Sunday. Didn't mind, especially as i got to see a gorgeous sunrise...

Photo doesn't do it justice.

And my auntie's 40th birthday party on Saturday evening....isn't it lush to spend time having fun with family like that? I love my family. Thanks God!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Listen. Be convinced. Repent.

"More prosperous than ever, but blighted by poverty and hunger. More technologically advanced, yet facing unprecedented environmental catastrophe. International alliances grow stronger yet war continues to afflict the lives of millions. New democracies offer hope for the future, as old regimes slide into chaos. The world in 2005 is a study of contradictions.
If one event shaped the new uncertainties of the third millennium, it was the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, which brought about a fundamental shift in the relationship between the world's most powerful nation and many of its poorest. But in December 2004, the devastating tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean was the sharpest possible reminder of the powerful forces that governments and armies alone will never be able to tame.
Six billion people now inhabit planet Earth, and each and every one of us has a stake in its future. How we treat our home, and how we treat each other, will determine the fate of humankind."
The Independent Map of the 21st Century

Interesting, eh?! Some very astute observations. Yes, this world is in a mess. And yes, no governement or army can stand against natural forces such as tsunami's or earthquakes. It seems the more human beings try to advance themselves in an effort to find protection, the more vulnerable we become. It's all about us.
Until an earthquake, tsunami, terrorist attack....

And then, suddenly, it's NOT about us at all. But not because we want to trust in someone else. Because we want to avoid blame.

The thing is, it's NOT about us. And that's why we become vulnerable. Because we think it is, and we stand in pure pride. And pride comes before a fall...
Jesus warned against pride. Pride makes us turn away from him. Pride makes us refuse to accept him as Lord over our lives. Pride stops us repenting and falling at his feet in wonder, love and praise.

Pure pride.

And pride makes us think we can do without God (until, of course, something happens which, shock horror, is out of our control).
Jesus said "...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10, The Bible).
FULL life! Life in abundance! Is that really possible?!

Well He says it is, and I'm inclined to believe him.

So who are the 'they' he's talking about?

"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 18:18)
LISTEN. BE CONVINCED. REPENT. (Read Luke's gospel!)
"That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord', and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, youwill be saved.....for, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9, 13)

Yes folks, it really is that simple. Praise God.

"Six billion people now inhabit planet Earth, and each and every one of us has a stake in its future. How we treat our home, and how we treat each other, will determine the fate of humankind."
Hmmm. The thing is, what's gonna happen has already been made clear. Jesus WILL return. And He will return to judge all people. Death is the ultimate statistic. ("Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgement." - Hebrews 9:27, The Bible).
So what do we do with that?

How we respond to God, in fact, and his offer of eternal life - because He's amazing and because He created us to be in a relationship with Him and He loves us- is what determines our eternity.

Reading University Christian Union Houseparty 2005!

Simply put...twas amazing. loved it. Notes from talks available here!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Competition time...

An Outdorr Bible!!! What will they think of next...although i have to say i'd love one! Always worried when i go away on camps etc that my Bible's gonna get wrecked. So if you feel the same, then check this out!

November Giveaway

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Cheesy grins all round!

Had the privilege of being at a baptismal service tonight where 5 (count 'em, FIVE!!!) young people (i.e.18-25ish I think) were baptised. HALLELUJAH!

Their testimonies were all quite different but, of course, had a common thread - the love and faithfulness of God. Complete love, complete faithfulness, completely worth all we can ever give...which will never be enough but the beauty of the gospel is that that's ok! The price is paid. When Jesus came to earth as a man and died that death on the cross he bore our sins....and then he rose again, showing his utter victory over the powers of hell.

I love hearing stories of how God's worked in people's big ways or small. And tonight i got to hear FIVE of those stories! And i was clsoe to tears.

Why? Simply because God is SO good! SImply because I'm a sinner, but he loves me anyway. Simply because I'm overwhelmed by the freedom I have living for Christ, and that as gift from God himself.

And simply because the gospel is SO simple.

"In Christ alone, my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease,
My comforter, my all in all,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of life, and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross, as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied,
For every sin on Him was laid -
Here in the death of Christ, I live.

There in the ground, His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth, in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again.
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse as lost it's grip on me,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry, to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of Hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand,
Till He returns, or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ, I stand."

(Stuart Townend - 'In Christ Alone')


Cheesy, cheesy grin....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I Will Praise You

In the sweetness of
times that are good,
easily I proclaim
worship and praise
to Your name.

In the bitterness of
times that are bad
the joy is no more.
Hard becomes praise,
as I am unsure.

In the lull of
times in between,
complacency sets in.
Worship ebbs and flows
and I’m too content with sin.

But yesterday You loved me,
and all the days before.
Today you love me still
and will forever more.

No matter how I’m feeling
this truth remains the same.
No matter my emotions,
“I AM” will ever reign

You deserve
nothing but my all
In good, bad, in between.
‘Cause whatever I may go through
Jesus, you died for me.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Prideless Love

I don't like admitting my sin. I REALLY don't!! But I'm starting to realise that by admitting it to others it displays God's wonderful grace in forgiving me, and also that I'm not perfect (a shock to you all, I know!!), so anything I do is through Him. With that in mind, I'm gonna admit here - ashamed as I am of it - that I'm rubbish!!! But praise God he loves us even when we're complete muppets. We've been studying pride in cell, and last night we looked at the parable of the lost son. We looked at the older brother, how the pharisees were like that. And it struck me how often I've been like that. Praise God not for a long time have I been like this, and I pray no more!

I'm dedicating this to all my brothers and sisters in Christ - I love you!!

Prideless Love
“But what about me?”
So oft is my plea.
“I’ve worked and I’ve served
And I’ve prayed and I’ve read.

And I’ve gone with no rest
But I don’t feel blessed.
My strength I have showed You
In all that I do.

But they do not work-
They just get the perks
Of my labour, my effort,
My toil and my sweat.

It’s not fair!”

“My child,” Jesus calls,
In His ever-caring way,
“I love you, but please,
Hear what I say.

I value your toiling
For my kingdom and name
But doing works in your own strength
Is just not the way.

Let me now remind you
Of all I’ve achieved;
And remember the grace
Which you’ve gladly received.

In freely receiving
So should you give,
And rejoice with me, please,
Over those who now live!

Rejoice in their gifts-
That they’re different to you –
‘Cause you’re all different parts
Of my body, it’s true.

I’ve made you all different
But I call you all mine,
So you’re part of a family
That will last for all time.

Be a wise older sibling,
Not selfish and proud,
And welcome all people,
In my Name, to the crowd

Of believers, the ones
Who have called on my name
And in repenting and trusting
Have come to be saved.”

“It’s not about me”
Becomes my new plea,
“It’s all about You,
Your graciousness true.

I’ll forget this no more
But stand in You, sure
To through You do all things
Enjoying the peace You bring.

To bring glory to Your name –
And this with Your aid –
I’ll banish my pride,
Staying fast by Your side...

I'll love others in -
and to -

(Luke 15:11-32, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

"Humility:True Greatness" - C.J. Mahaney - A Review

Well, I said I'd review this book WAY back in August. I really don't know where the past couple of months have gone!

I'm sorry I didn't review this book earlier, simply because it's great! And simply because it's about a subject which I need to consider and learn a lot more about! And because it's great! But perhaps it's ok that I left it till now - after all, it fits in with the study we've just done in cell on pride!

I've never read one of C.J's books before, but I now know this won't be the last, if he writes all his books like this!

I have to admit, I was dubious. I mean, come on, if you're writing a book on how to be humble, surely there's an essence of pride simply in that?! But what's great is that C.J. is brilliantly honest. Not cringeworthingly so, but just simply honest. You can tell, without him having to state it, that this guy is searching after true humility. Not the false humility we so often develop in our sinful hearts, but the humility Jesus teaches.

With humour and insight, C.J. offers the valuable gift of knowledge learnt not just from studying God's word on this subject but from the experiences God has given him. This book is tremendously easy to read. It took me months to get round to starting, but once I did, it was completed in a matter of days (and would have been sooner if work hadn't got in the way!)

I love this book, I can tell it's gonna be one I read again and again coz I want - I NEED - to develop true humility. Obviously there's no substitute for the Bible and prayer in seeking after this, but this book will certainly be a help! And especially because C.J. constantly points his readers back to Jesus, back to Scripture.

I don't know if I've just been ignoring it, but it strikes me that I haven't been taught much about humility, true humility. But it's something the church desperately needs teaching on! So praise God for leading C.J. to write this.

I STRONGLY suggest you read it. Read better reviews and BUY IT HERE!!! We all need to develop humility more and more in our lives. And one thing I've really learnt from this hugely practical book is that we need each other. Not only to keep each other 'on track' but we need to be honest with each other. We need to use our own gifts of experience - especially the bad! - to give advice to others.

And we need to become less, that our Saviour King may become more in us. We need to desperately seek after humility: true greatness indeed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Handbrake turns and dust clouds...

Why is it that we get so much fun from throwing a car around?! Dunno, but on the weekend I remembered just HOW much fun it is, and my bro got a taste as the Bill Gwynne Rally School. It was my 18th birthday present from aunties, uncles and cousins, and Nathan had the same...and loved every minute of it!

And he had the joy of driving under a gorgeous sunset...

And this next pic isn't Nathan, but it's someone having GREAT fun in a Subaru...which i wanna go in next! And it's also a pretty cool pic! (I think so anyway!)

Oooh, I want me one of

THESE!!!! (please mam, Christmas is coming...!!!)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Good ol' speechies...

Just back from a great night out with some of my coursemates. Was a fantastic evening, really really enjoyed it. Nice to relax! And nice to spend time with them outside of lectures. The fact that we were asked to leave one pub because one girl (aged 26!) didn't have ID actually made it all the more fun!

Counting My Blessings

Placement really got to me last week...

Counting My Blessings

The pain of their heartbreak
Brings me near to tears
And the stamp of their birth date
Causes me fear.

Beyond the glazed eyes,
Beneath the limp limbs,
Despite what the doctor says
Things there are not so dim.

There’s a soul.

In the photos on the walls
The eyes are sparkling bright.
The limbs are full of life and
There’s not a doctor in sight.

But now there’s just a shadow of sparkle…

As the pain and fear grip
Naturally I question ‘Why?’
Tears are moving closer now –
But they mustn’t see me cry.

I count my blessings –
To God give thanks –
My eyes still sparkle,
I walk, talk, dance.

The photos show she loved to dance…

And then a greater sadness
Fills my heart to overflow;
Even in the sparkle of the pictures,
Still they didn’t know You.

So even then ‘twas a shadow of a sparkle,
Though it did seem so real
‘Cause Life is only found in You –
Only in Jesus’ blood sealed.

My heart is near breaking
It’s tearing right in two.
Shattered by Your love and grace-
I owe everything to You.

But broken also by the urgency
Of pointing all to Jesus, straight,
Before even the shadow of sparkle is lost,
So they’re saved, before it’s too late.

PROPER study...

Studied Luke 15 - 16:15 this morning with good ol' Mr Bish (I don't really think you're old Bish...!)

My head was spinning! I'm not gonna say much here about why coz it'll spoil cell...! So maybe next week. But what's really hit me over the past few weeks and what we've studied is that i REALLY need to study the Bible properly! As in, not just assume i know what it's saying coz i've studied it before or i've read this particular passage a million times.

I need to really pray before each passage i study that God, by His Holy Spirit, would reveal the meaning to me and how I can apply it to my life. I need to stop assuming i know what the passage says and really, really read it.

Come to think of it, that's another thing I learnt in Barcelona (The proof is HERE!) - I just forgot...thanks for the reminder, Lord!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Dying to live happily ever after"

"The Western fear of death, some argue, lies at the heart of many contemporary problems, such as the denial of ageing and the marginalisation of the elderly. The Mexican Day Of The Dead - which celebrates the memory of the departed with humour and ribaldry, sugar skulls and sleketon dolls - remains a curiosity. Religions have tried to provide answers to the question of what happens after death but, as traditional beliefs erode, other solutions are sought. We asked three intuitives, familiar with the afterlife, to tell us what's really out there."
MetroFocus, Metro, 1st November 2005, page 19.
I don't normally read the Metro on my way to placement (normally coz i got my head stuck in a book cramming for whatever questions i think i'm gonna be asked..!). But today i did. And this is what i read.
It intrigued me. And the answers the 'panel' gave intrigued me even more. Check this out...
"The afterlife is like a lucid dream...we become who we really are... Of all the things we do in life, our greatest achievements are our acts of true love. It's the love between people that builds the bridge of light between the two worlds."
And the next person -
"I don't believe in Hell. If your afterlife is difficult, it's because that's what you consider you 'deserve'...The dead have jobs. When there are tragedies, like earthquakes, they assist people crossing over. There are healers who heal, educators who teach and also 'policemen'. bear in mind when people first cross, they keep their personalities. Someone like Saddam Hussein won't suddenly become godly."
And person number 3...
"People who were bad in their earthly life find themselves where they expected to be - not Hell exactly, but dark places. Only when they become aware of higher realms can they move on. People often ask the dead what life is about. It's about unconditional love. People struggle with things such as money - but, in the bigger scheme of things, they're just not relevant."
Intriguing, for a number of reasons.
Firstly, i'm intrigued by the fact that the introduction to the article said that religions hadn't provided satisfactory answers and so they're turning to 'intuitives' for the answer to what happens after death....but even these three people don't fully agree either.
And person number one - if we become 'who we really are' in the afterlife, then what are we now? And if it's like a dream...well, dreams aren't real.
Person number 2 - i find it difficult to believe that in the afterlife you get what you think you deserve. And interesting use of the word 'godly' when this person clearly doesn't believe in God...why not 'perfect', or 'good', for example?
Person number 3 - What do we define as 'bad'? And in previous conversations i've had with people about the gospel they've said that they don't like the fact that a person could commit an evil act and then repent and enter heaven. They don't deserve it. Aside from the fact that we're all sinful, this causes a big problem for some people in terms of the gospel, but person 3 is saying that 'when a person becomes aware of higher realms they can move on', no matter, it seems, how bad they are. Quite how they become aware of these higher realms they don't say. But it's an odd concept and i don't understand how people can accept it, given what they think about the gospel.
What i also found intriguing, and slightly sad too, is that two of these people talk about unconditional love as being integral to our lives, or 'afterlife'.
Isn't it sad that people recognise some elements of truth but are blind to the reality.
GOD IS LOVE. And so yes, life is (or should be) about love - because it should be about God.
People the world over are searching for the meaning to their lives. They search for it in money, clothes, celebrity, sex, drink, possessions...and they don't find it. they think they have for a time, but realise sooner or later that actually those things are only temporary and, to re-quote person 3, "in the bigger scheme of things, they're just not relevant".
She's right there. Because the reason we're searching is that we were created by God to enjoy a relationship with Him. And we're not. We've cut ourselves off from Him and our soul yearns within us for our loving creator.
But we shut Him out.
"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John chapter 3, verse 36, The Bible.)
Reading through part of Luke's gospel in cell tonight i was again struck at just how simple it is to get eternal life. We just have to accept the invitation! We get bogged down in trying to earn our way to God (if we even believe God exists) and/or trying to find a 'higher spiritual realm'.
If we're honest with ourselves, we know there's something after death. And if we're really honest with ourselves we know there's something more than just an 'afterlife'. The beauty of it is that we're right! And what's even more beautiful is that we don't need to do anything to get it...we simply have to believe and accept Jesus.
If i were to re-write the introduction to that article, maybe i'd say something like this...
"The Western fear of death, I'd argue, stems from the inherent knowledge in each of us that 'there must be more to life than this'. But the fear comes from not knowing exactly what that 'more' is, what follows death. And not knowing what follows stems from not truly listening, from wanting to create our own versions and stories. To get over our fear and grief we create ways to 'connect with the dead' or decide to believe that there is no such thing as hell. Many religions, sects, and 'intuitives' have sought to provide answers to the question of what happens after death, but they fall short. They don't quite satisfy and they don't match up. But Jesus said 'I am the way and the truth and the life. ' (John chapter 3, verse 16, The Bible). Perhaps, just perhaps, the key to eternal life, the answer to what happens when we die, is actually quite easy. It's believing in, and following, this Jesus. Just like he said."
Can you accept that? Oh, if only you could. It's THAT simple.