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Thursday, December 29, 2005

IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I wanted to say really.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Distracted Much

Well I am.

I mean, who wants to read "It is such a lack of specification that allows the suggestion, on the evidence of different abilities in oral and written spelling in a dysgraphic patient, that there may be different graphemic output buffers for the production of letter names in speech and orthographic symbols in writing..."

When you can listen to things like "There is not one square inch of the entire creation over which Jesus Christ does not cry out 'This is mine'". Abraham Kuyper, quoted by Richard Cunningham, UCCF Forum 2004.

In an attempt to give myself a break from work (not that I deserve one, to be fair!), here's some more things I've been reading/listening to recently...See if you can spot the one I don't agree with!

"We are seeking a self-motivated and innovative person to work with our existing Therapist to provide services for the people of the Falkland Islands." Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists 'Bulletin' Mid-month Supplement, December 2005
(Well I don't know if I'm innovative enough and I think this very post proves I'm not self-motivated enough, but that ain't half tempting...! Maybe I'll get back there one day...)

"Britain's churches will be well on the way to extinction by 2040 with just 2% of the population attending Sunday services. That's the latest prediction from The Future of the Church report this summer." UCCF Annual Review, 2005

"We must allow our minds to be transformed. Not conformed - TRANSFORMED." Richard Cunningham, UCCF Forum 2004.

"Jesus I bow at your manger lowly, Now in my life let Your will be done, Live in my flesh by Your Spirit holy, Till Your kingdom comes." Graham Kendrick - 'Look to the Skies'.

"Not one of us can rightly say we are good enough exactly as we are." Mike Pritchard, 'Contact - December 2005' - The magazine of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Blackwood.

"When it comes to drinking and gambling, should we trust the Brits not to over-indulge in their new freedom? slip into 1950's Tory speak, it's a yes to trusting the people but, just as in Macmillan's day, with trust comes responsibility. What are the odds on that?" Mark Jarvis, BBC History Magazine, December 2005.

"When we get our priorities right and put the worship of God first, then everything else falls into place. When we put other things first - even other good things, other Christian things - then everything falls apart. It's as simple as that." Mike Pilavachi, 'Loving God' in 'Inside Out Worship' by Matt Redman and friends.

"We must build a church that allows people to sin. People must be allowed to get it wrong and find a way back." Idea Magazine, Jan/Feb/March 2000.

"You see, worship and the Word are inseparable. As worshippers....we must continually link our lives to the living Word of God...worship does not begin with music, but with God. In fact, everything begins with Him, the living Logos (word), the Alpha and the Omega - Beginning and End...When's the last time you were around people who were 'overflowing' with worship because of the impact God's Word was making in their lives? Songs alone don't change people. It's the truth that sets us free." Louie Giglio 'Searching the Psalms: Psalm 119' In 'Inside Out Worship' by Matt Redman and friends.

"43% of 16-24 year olds cite being nice to relatives they don't like as a cause of stress."
Readers Digest, January 2006.

"By 2010, 50% of 18-21 year olds in the UK will be studying in university or college. Of these 3.5 million students, 300,000 will be internationals. Most will know little of Jesus. This is a huge opportunity to share the good news of the gospel to a generation without Jesus and without hope." UCCF Annual Review, 2005.

"Opinion is split on just what the Magi were looking at when, according to the gospel of Matthew, they saw the star of the king of the Jews in the eastern sky and set off for Bethlehem...Astronomers have pored over the question for centuries, exploring theories that the star was a comet or a supernova." Cahal Milmo, The Independent, 24th December 2005. (Sigh. "pored over for centuries"....why do people spend so much time missing the point?)

"However hard we try to rub off those aspects of our lives such as prejudice, pride, stubbornness, self-will and the like, the stain of such sins will remain. However much we believe we have brightened up lives they can never and will never compare with the brightness of the Glory of God. So called 'New Year Resolutions' will most certainly fail us too...But there is a way to resolve the problem and it's - put out of your mind what it is you can do, let God do what He can do." Mike Pritchard, 'Contact, December 2005' - The magazine of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, Blackwood.

"While Hinduism and Buddhism are very different in their approach to deities...both encourage the believer to look for god within their own human nature. Not so the monotheistic faiths. The God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is demanding and angry...No surprise, then, that for 1,000 years and more religion has become inextricably associated with warfare and violence." Hugh Costello, 'Review of 'The Story of God' (TV Programme)', BBC History Magazine, December 2005.
(Could write a WHOLE separate blog post on that one! Maybe I will, unless any of you beat me to it!)

"It's easy to praise when everything is going according to plan. It's more of a challenge when everything around us is falling to pieces. It takes great faith to say 'You are good' when life is incredibly hard. But God is good and forever worthy or our praise. This is not dependent on our feelings. Day and night, always the same, God deserves our highest praise. We will find great comfort and healing in the Church by allowing space to be honest and real about how we really feel. To allow questions and doubts to rise, but in that place to respond to God by worshipping His holy name." Tim Hughes, in 'Inside Out Worship' by Matt Redman and friends.

"Collective worship in schools should be scrapped because it is 'unworkable', the leader of headteachers said...'Compulsory worship is a contradiction in terms. Ordering a student to worship is like ordering them to enjoy mathematics'." John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, quoted in The Independent, 24th December 2005. (Man's got a point, but still not quite sure what I think of that one...answers on a comment page!)

So, some food for thought there for y'all....! Have tried to resist commenting on them as much as I can. I'm sure as I mull some of those quotes over in the next few days I'll have some posts based on them...! But, ending on this last one, it's back to the books for me...

"Does your faith go with you into lectures? Or do you leave it behind in church/CU? Does your mind go with you into church/CU? Or do you leave it behind in the lecture hall? The worship that's acceptable to God is to offer all we are, all we do, all we think as a living sacrifice....
Life doesn't easily divide into secular and sacred, into spiritual and physical. All that we do, Monday to Saturday, and including Sunday, is to be acceptable worship."
Richard Cunningham, UCCF Forum 2004.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas pressies!

From the serious/useful to the downright's a selection of what was under the tree for me this year!

New lens for my camera (I broke the other one...ahem)
Lights for my bike (VERY useful!!)
New Bible Commentary

Semi-serious, but still useful!
Thermal socks (seriously!)
Fluffy scarf, socks and gloves (think my parents think I'm gettin old)

Rusks (yummmmmmmmmy!)
The Adventures of Tintin Box Set on DVD!!!

In my cracker....
A jigsaw puzzle

The best, most original, funniest Christmas present in the Oakes household this year...
Given to my bro Nathan by his friend Jonny - utterly classic...


He even joined us for dinner....(photo to folllow!)

They think it's all over...


It's Boxing Day. In some families I guess the festivities continue (they do in ours - tradition holds that we spend this afternoon/evening with my mother's side of the family....more presents!)

But I guess also for most, that's it. Christmas is over. The party is done, for another year.

What a shame.

In church yesterday we heard the real message of Christmas. The message of a God, in total love that there are no words to describe, sending His one and only son to this earth. Why? Now there is the question.

To live, amongst us, Emmanuel - God with us. To grow, to die. A wasted life? A meaningless death? Was that it -was it over?

Well, yes, if you only see Jesus as a 'good man' or a 'prophet'.

But He wasn't. If you see Jesus for who He is, then you have glimpsed something amazing, awesome, splendid and beautiful. And when you have glimpsed that, a glimpse isn't enough. To know that He died for you brings you to your knees. We are not worthy to stand in front of a Holy God - but we can. We can because if we accept Him, He sees Jesus, His son, in us.

And our lives are His.....gladly I give my life to God because life IS meaningless any other way. Any other way my life would be wasted and meaningless. Christmas would be wasted and meaningless.

And in church yesterday we also heard that the message of Christmas isn't for one day. God with us. Jesus saw the need. He saw our need. And He stepped into our world.

He's still doing that today. He's still knocking on the doors of our hearts and all we have to do is invite Him in. I LOVE how simple it is.

So is it all over? Praise God, no-sirreee! The party continues. Especially as we say "here I am, Lord, send me" - as we see the need and we step into other people's we take the message of Christmas, the message of Jesus, to them and please God see them saved.

"Joy to the world, the Lord is come..." Indeed. Joy, utter joy. Joy that will last, no matter what, forever.

"Hallelujah, King forever..." Indeed. Not just to be remembered on Christmas day, but to be served all year through. Not just King of the joy, but King of the sadness, of the hurt. Our refuge.

"Let earth receive her King" Indeed!!! Let's REALLY receive Him.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Wow....just, wow.

I read two testimonies this week in the magazine Barnabus Aid - the magazine of the Barnabus Fund.

They shocked me...they casued me to praise God for His faithfulness...they powerfully reminded me to pray more for my brothers and sisters around the world...they forcefully reminded me how blessed I am not to suffer the persecution so many Christians suffer...and they forced me to question...would I be as brave? I'd like to think so, I pray I would...but that's just it - without God, I'm nothing. He is the ultimate. These testimony's were wonderful reminders of that, too. So the next two posts contain some excertps from the testimonies of Ahmed and Maria encouraged. Be challenged. Get praying. Get praising!

Maria Cecilia

"I was born into a wealthy Muslim family in...Malawi...I was sent to a Christian boarding school in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). At school I read the Bible and various Christian books - at home I read the Qur'ran and prayed in Arabic.
Gradually my feelings about religion began to change and I asked if I could attend Sunday worship at school. It was at this time that I felt called to be a follower of Christ, and one midnight I was secretly baptised. When the next school vacation came, I told my father about my decision. I explained that when I went to the Mosque and prayed I felt nothing, but when I was in church I felt I was communicating with God, and my conscience told me to follow Christ. My father replied that I was too young to have a conscience and that I should pray to Allah for guidance and forgiveness.

He cancelled the education of all 10 of us (myself, my siblings and cousins) at the school in Rhodesia. All theothers lost their education because I had become a Christian. I was Maria Cecilia, the rebel. I was thrown out of the family live with a Christian aunt. It was a difficult time...I was frightened and sad but in an odd way very happy. The reason is simple: my strong and true faith in God told me that I wasnow in His hands and would be loved and cared for wherever I went...
(parents) arranged for the Muslim Mwaleem-mullah to re-convert me to Islam...The men who were to perform the cleansing ritual wore white outfits that made them look like the Ku Klux Klan...They surrounded me and asked 'Halima,' (my Muslim name), 'Do you denounce and repent to your father Gulam and declare that you will give up Christianity?' My reply was 'No!' spoken with calmness and serenity...I felt as if there were arms holding me up in a warm and comforting embrace...After the ceremony my uncle intervened and said 'This girl has seen something which we do not see, Gulam let her go and I will care for her.'....
I shed no tears and felt no sorrow. they could not understand how I underwent that ceremony and still emerged smiling. Of course, I did not do it alone."

Maria Cecilia eventually decided she had to leave home...she earned enough money for a one-way ticket to Britain...she trained as a nurse, married and raised a family. In 2003 she returned to Malawi to visit her widowed mother, was was aged 93 and very sick. Through Maria's prayers her mother washealed and then decided that she too would follow Christ, who had healed her. Many other family members have also become Christians.

Excerpts taken from Maria Cecilia's testimony printed in
Barnabus Aid Magazine, January-February 2006 (page 11).

Ahmed Mustafa Abaza

"After I accepted Christ as my Saviour I continued to live among my beloved family. I prayed and cried to the Lord to give me courage, strength and wisdom that I might bring happiness to my family and that they might receive the light, life and truth....

In January 1987 I was able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to announce to them that I had become a Christian and that I have one God and one Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ....

In the following weeks my father tried many things to turn me back to Islam...none of these worked and finally he turned to threats, violence and torture. My beloved father started beating me with his hands, the hands he had rested on my little head when I was a child, which had been a symbol of strength and protection for me...These hands, which I loved to kiss to prove my love and respect for my father, were now used to hold cigars with which he would burn me. My father despaired of me because I would not change. He turned into a monster. He suspended me by chains, he tortured me with electricity and in other ways. But as he tried to kill my body, my soul was alive with Jesus, saying, 'Glory to the Lord'...

Eventually my body collapsed from all the injuries and for 4 months I was wracked with fever. My father continued to burn me and beat me with a strap. He would laugh, and shout that death was better for me than bringing scandal to the family...My mother put everything else to one side to stay near me and try to console me.

The night of July 13th 1987 I will never forget. God glorified and raised my poor, weak body, asking me to move...He said 'Wake up, give me your hands'. I held His blessed hands and a great power revived my poor body. It was the day I escaped from my family home, where I had spent 19 years, 3 months and 17 days with my beloved family.

For some months I lived in peace and freedom with a kind friend. Then visitors came tothe house saying my father was dying and asking to see me. I prayed for God's leading and decided to go with them, but found that I was taken to the Public Security Building. For 17 months I suffered there. Every day for 3 months I had a try to persuade me to go back to Islam. But because they failed, soldiers came and beat me with bamboo canes. They hung me by my legs from the ceiling. They moved me from my comfortable cell to a dungeon like a dog kennel.

Many of the prison guards became my friends when they understood what it means to be faithful to the truth, despite increasing torture. They told me about hundreds, or maybe thousands, whom they had witnessed being tortured for the sake of Christ. During 17 months in prison, Christ was my only companion. His closeness was sufficient to shorten this period for me despite my suffering. The prayers of the saints were my support. I felt the real presence of my Lord and was comforted."

Eventually Ahmed was released. Later he was baptised and then managed to escape from Egypt to a safe country.

Excerpts taken from Ahmed's testimony, printed in
Barnabus Aid Magazine, January-February 2006, page 10.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Check this out - my dad's gone all technological....

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Things I've been reading....Part 1!

So in amongst all the manic-ness which has occurred since I've been home, I've enjoyed reading. (That's reading, not Reading...! English is such a silly language! hehehehe...)
Unfortunately not much to do with my course....I need to do more! But when you love books as much as I do and you're thirsty for books that will aid your relationship with God and help you grow in that (other than the Bible, of course!), and you're faced with my parents bookshelves - well, the temptation is too great. In a few days - maybe after Christmas! - I plan to post some of my favourite quotes from the books I've managed to read in depth or even just skim. But right now, some quotes from things I read in work today (ahem, when I was 'in-between duties'....!)

Following on from Ed's post on friendship, my post on the same topic, and Bish's recent post on unity, I found this interesting....

"'Virtual' communities enable us to talk to people around the world, but the internet also isolates us. With fewer opportunities to interact with real people, the way we relate to our families, partners and friends has changed."
Jon Matthias, 'Family' Magazine (The magazine of Care for the Family) Spring 2006 Issue. Page 2. (View the magazine HERE.)

"Forgiveness is another area that is frequently misunderstood...Forgiveness isn't easy. It also isn't about saying 'It doesn't matter', .....If you are willing to forgive, to ditch your baggage and trust someone, that's friendship, that's love. It's about commitment, sticking with it when times are tough, seeing the best in someone. It's been said that a friend is 'the person who knows the worst thing about you, but doesn't hold it against you'. You can only do that if you love someone."
Rob Parsons, in 'Family', Spring 2006 Issue, pages 2-3.

I'm so glad God's the ultimate friend!!

On slightly different themes...

"Above all, we have a God who wants to save, regenerate and nurture. We couldn't do it without him - and I don't suppose we'd even try."
Living Stones Newsletter, No. 2, 2005. (Couldn't find a website for these guys but they're a voluntary organisation based in Cardiff working alongside men with, primarily, alcohol addictions, aiming to also bring them to a knowledge of Christ.)

"The church needs to be a loving family ready to truly welcome prodigals home...But that means asking some tough quesitons of ourselves...We need to ask what WE must do to change, so that we can hold a party fit for prodigals who return...We havne't grasped grace. Our faith is too narrow and fails to speak to the big issues in the world."


So I'm sat here surfing the net, checking emails etc and what do I hear upstairs? I hear a CD of Christian worship songs being played.

And I hear mam singing along.

Nothin' remarkable about a Christian singing worship songs, you may think.

Mam's had a really tough couple of days in work. She's also still battling long-term health problems. Both our cars have needed amounts of money spent on them today. Christmas is coming and she'll be cooking for at least 11, possibly 14. She's still got two more days of work to go, with early mornings and late evenings. We got home from work at 7pm tonight. She's now icing the Christmas cake.

And she's praising God. The things mam face at the moment are nothing compared to what some people have to face, true. But my point is; she's tired, she's weary, and yet she's singing "shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing, glory and majesty, praise to the King".

Hallelujah. I cannot express to you the joy that is in my heart to hear her praising God right now.

And the glory goes to Him.

Now I'm singing...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Today I received a copy of the promo vid for Hope 2006 - Reading University Christian Union's (RUCU) events ('mission') week in February of the fast-approaching new year...

I nearly cried! I nearly cried when I watched it the first time in our last CU meeting of term. Why? Not because it's a fantastic vid (altho it IS amazing!!!) But because the excitement and passion of the gospel shines through it. Because it's inspiring. Because it reminded me of God's grace and it reminded me of exactly why I need to be shouting about it so much more clearly, and so much more loudly.

And why I need to be praying so much more about events week. Why I need to be praying so much more for my friends.

20th-24th February 2006. Please pray with/for us.

YEAH - BRING IT ON!!!!! :-)

Monday, December 19, 2005

God Moves In A Mysterious Way

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

Hymn by William Cowper

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Richard Cunningham Interview

Adrian Warnock interviews Rirchard Cunningham from UCCF. Go read!

The Wonderful Wit of the Welsh...!

My parents have a treasure trove of books which I never make full use of, but I found this gem today - 'Welsh Wit and Humour' by D. Byron Evans. (No "Oh the Welsh have a sense of humour do they" jokes!!)

Here's some excerpts....

"The following are the aftermath of people talking in their second language, English, while thinking in their first language, Welsh....

I can't come tonight because we'vegot strange people coming here.

How is your sister? Is she still in bed?
Oh yes, she's still in bed. But she's standing on her sitting now.

The Deacon, well versed in the ways of colonialism, decided to give the chapel's weekly announcements in English because a single Englsih visitor was present. He cleared his throat and told the packed chapel, 'Now we will take the collection,' he said, 'John Parry will go to hel this side and William Davies will go to hel that side. Please note that the preacher for next Sunday is hanging in the porch...Now I'd better leave it at that before I make a muck of it.'
(Hel is the Welsh word for 'collect')

Giving direction to the Englishman...
'Turn left and you'll be right'

An English newcomer wanted to know what was going on in the local chapel. It was a temperance meeting, but he was told 'It's a sing song against the beer'.

As the fly crows.

Train to Heathrow then a test tube there.

The BBC sympathy orchestra.

Slightly more seroius....a story about a talk by Revd Stephen Jenkins...

"At the monthly meeting in Havefordwest, things were dragging along and the speakers could not get any hwyl into the proceedings. the chairman called on Stephen to say a few words.
'I remember some time ago my friends,' he said, 'that a preacher came to Crundale on the Saturday afternoon, a little earlier than expected. The farmer and his wife, where he was to stay, were very busy. The mistress went to put the kettle on, but the tin can was empty. 'Here Mary,' she said to the maid, 'Run to the well as fast as you can.' When the mistress went to put water in the kettle on the maid's return, there wasnt a drop in the can. What was the matter? Was the well dry? No! There was plenty of water in the well. Was the tin can leaking? No! What was the matter then? SHE PUT THE TIN CAN IN THE WELL WITHOUT TAKING THE LID OFF!! It seems to me, friends, that we in this meeting are as dull as Mary. We've come to the Well of Salvation with our tin cans withut taking the lids off!'"

Aren't the Welsh just simply wonderful....? (The answer, by the way, as if there was ANY doubt, is YES!)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I just don't know why...

All I Know (I Don't Know Why)

I don't know why, I can't see how,
Your precious blood could cleanse me now.
When all this time, I've lived a lie,
With no excuse, no alibi.

All I know is I find mercy,
All my shame You take from me,
All I know, Your cross has power
And the blood You shed cleanses me.

It's way beyond what I can see,
How anyone could die for me.
So undeserved, this precious grace.
You've won my heart, I'll seek Your face.

All I know is I find mercy,
All my shame You take from me,
All I know, Your cross has power
And the blood You shed cleanses me.

Noel and Tricia Richards and Wayne Drain

Thursday, December 15, 2005

'Tis the season to sing carols...

Well, we can sing carols ANY time of year of course. But tonight I went to my second carol service of the year, organised by Care for the Family. Mam works for them, and I've worked for them at times during the hols, and tonight was great. As was last night when mam's department and another went out for a meal (they kindly invited me and my bro Nathan along, as we've worked for them at various points through the year). More fellowship!


So Ed went and got all nostalgic last night....although I'm not complaining, I like a bit of nostalgia every now and again!

As I said in my comment on his blog, friends are great, friendship is indeed precious, God given, and we should praise Him for it!

I nearly went on but decided Ed's comment page wasn't the appropriate place for what it felt like could turn into quite an essay. But go and check out Ed's blog - it's great and I'm especially loving his posts on Colossians atm!


Friends. Friends are great! And like Ed was saying, it's sad when we move on to different places. That was certainly my experience at the end of the summer term. To be blunt, I hated it! I hated the fact that people I'd spent the past three years of my life with, who knew me SO well, were leaving. I hated the fact that other people I'd started uni with who, ok didn't know me as well but were still great to have around, were leaving.

But God's been showing me this past term that it's exciting, too! Exciting because they've gone off to serve God in other places, in new ways...Exciting because even though I'm 'left behind' as it were, that's not a bad thing - far from it! Hallelujah! In fact, it's great! It's great because I get to serve God in new ways too. It's great because, just as they're making new friends, I am too! And not only that, but getting to know others better, those who I've known since they started uni but have never really gotten to spend a lot of time with. And now I can. What a privilege.

It's a weird mix of emotions - missing your old friends and yet having such joy at making new ones! I've loved this term, because of all the stuff I've seen God do, all the stuff He's taught me. And part of that has been through the fellowship I've shared.

Friendship is indeed precious. I've loved being able to go visit people who left last year, like Dave T and Ros and Dave Cox (still funny saying that!)...and having Helen back is great! And having Abi and Arwen come to stay (just Liz left now!). And it was great to see Sam, Chris and Steve at the carol service....and I had a card from Rachel and Oli today which was great and I look forward to catching up with them and others in 2006.

These times seem all the more precious when they're more rare. Why? I should cherish my God-given friendships more. I should be more thankful.

I've loved the fellowship I've shared with both my cell groups. And I've loved spending time with people who I always thought were great but never got to spend enough time with. And I loved the houseparty - getting to meet so many more people in RUCU. Precious times.

And I love the fact that I get to spend eternity with these people! Let's pray it's a BIGGER party - let's tell MORE people about Jesus!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Green, Green Grass of HOME!

I'm going to Wales!!! :-D

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Scene: Chaplaincy Centre
Discussion: Food (as per usual...)

Ceryn: I'm gonna eat fishfingers and pasta for tea tonight
Fish: Oh, don't eat me!
Sally: It's just your fingers, the rest of you will be ok.

Well I thought it was funny...!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Then sings my soul....

Needing a break from work before I got too stressed, and inspired by Kat (and more importantly God!), I went to take some photos of campus today. They're lush and you can see them here.

All copyright The Creator. Do you know him? If you don't then make sure you get to!

AMAAAAZIN' guy....

Seven Things (just coz I'm scared of Bish)

ok so here we go....if I HAVE to .....

1. Tell more people about Jesus
2. Travel lots
3. Learn how to take better pictures
4. Be nicer, more full of grace
5. Grow closer to God
6. Play piano better
7. Learn Welsh. (I know, shock horror i'm not fluent already!) And Spanish. Does that count as two? Tough.

1. Fly
2. Resist MSN
3. Be perfect (yet)
4. Drink coffee
5. Lick my elbow
6. Grow taller than my brothers
7. Think of more to say...(not coz I'm good at everything, but because I'm not and it won't all fit!)

1. Complete and utter passion for God
2. He'll challenge/encourage me in my relationship with God...
3. ...I'll be able to challenge/encourage him
4. He'll get on well with my family/friends
5. He'll make me laugh
6. He'll be good lookin'....;-)
7. He'll be a stong man of God I can respect
8. He'll exist!!!!!

1. Amaaaaaaaaaaaazin'!!!
2. Dude (regrettably...can't stop myself. Thanks Issy!)
3. Eh?!
4. Wales is great
5. God rocks
6. It's all about grace
7. Yeah man

SEVEN BOOKS I LOVE (apart from the Bible!)
1. Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson (And a lot of other Bryson books!)
2. The Pelican Brief - John Grisham (In fact, pretty much every John Grisham book!)
3. The Prayer That Changes Everything - Stormie Omartian
4. Christ and His People - David Peterson
5. The Pursuit of God - A.W. Tozer
6. The Silver Sword - Ian Serraillier
7. The Faraway Tree - Enid Blyton (thanks for the reminder of this one, Kat!)
8. One Child - Torey Hayden
9. Narnia Books - C.S. Lewis
10. How Green Was My Valley - Richard Llewellyn

(I CAN count honest but if I'm being forced to do this I can't just do seven books, I love books too much! I've been very restrained naming just ten!)

1. Bruce Almighty
2. Shawshank Redemption
3. A Beautiful Mind
4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
5. Emma
6. The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain
7. The Lion King

1. Miriam
2. Sal
3. Jonny
4. Chris
5. Deborah
6. Kat if she had a blog..... GET ONE!!!
7. haven't got that many friends....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Focused on God

Church this morning was great. I love church. I was SO excited about going. So excited about fellowship, so excited about going to praise God with other believers, so excited about learning more about God through His word.

Before I went to church I read this:-

"Examine yourself under the brightest light - the light of Christ. One of the elements of jealousy is a wrong comparison with others. When you get close to Christ you will hear Him say: 'Compare yourself with Me. Make Me your standard.'"
(Selwyn Hughes - 'Growing In Christ')

It's so true! We need to constantly be comparing ourselves with Christ. Because the simple fact is that we can never be fully like Him this side of eternity. We will NEVER match up. And that reminds us of how much we stand in GRACE, because God knows we can never match up to that standard. That's the whole point! We stand in GRACE! Pure, wonderful, abundant, amazing GRACE!

And so we need to keep our eyes fully focused on God. We need to remember that this is NOT about us, it's about Him. EVERYTHING is about Him. the good times, the bad, the times in between.


Jonathan Stephen spoke in church this morning on John 11:17-37, following on from last week.
I didn't take notes (REALLY wish I had!). But one thing he spoke about was summat I've been learning/been reminded of a lot the past couple of days.

When we stay focused on God, everything, although we may be in turmoil, is OK.

Seems weird. How, if we're in turmoil, can everything be ok?

In verse 24, Martha tells Jesus she believes her dead brother Lazarus, whom she is mourning, will be raised again at the last day. In verse 27 she confesses that Jesus is the Christ. Despite her grief, she is able to, when her eyes are fixed on Jesus, know that it will all be ok.

So why in verse 39 does she have a problem? Did she not really mean what she said earlier?

Or is it that she's taken her eyes from Jesus? She's focusing instead on the power of death, and letting that overwhelm her?

How, if we're in turmoil, can everything be ok?

If we remain focused on God, praising Him despite what we're going through, knowing that we stand in pure grace and looking always to the author and perfector of our faith, then we know we're safe in His hands and sin and death cannot overwhlem us.

Jonathan said something else which really challenged - and encouraged - me. Jesus is interceding for me! I knew that, but it hit home this morning. It it hit home what Martha says to Jesus in verse 22. That Jesus wants what's best for us, he KNOWS what's best for us, and it will be granted. Hallelujah.

And you know those times when you're in such turmoil that you simply do not know what to pray? The Holy Spirit intercedes for us too!

Two members of the Godhead are interceding on my behalf.


God is SO GOOD!

Overwhelmed by grace, and determined to stay fully focused on Him.


Ahhh. I've been mulling summat over in my head the past few days about God's guidance and was gonna write it up but my thoughts are still not fully formed and coherent enough to torture you with. so I thought I'd show you these poems instead. Forgot I'd written them!

Day by Day

I wander on
Through pathways
My imagination finds.

They lead
To different places
In my future.

I stumble
And halt as
Each path becomes a crossroads.

I need a guide.
And You, O Lord, are waiting.

As I stop imagining
And give my thoughts to You,
Stumbling now is ceasing -
You show me what to do.

In complete surrender
I say “Your will be done”.
You take my hand and lead me –
Holy Spirit, Father, Son.

Teach me more to do this,
Lord, have your way in me.
As day by day I trust you
Day by day more signposts I’ll see.



Don’t Always Understand

I don’t always understand You,
Don’t always see the way to go,
Sometimes I feel I’m standing still
I try, but do not know Your will.
Confusion’s in and around me,
Don’t have glasses strong enough to see
My future, and the path in front,
What's included, and what isn't.
But You are waiting, patient,
Away You never went,
Nor will go, You are with me.
And when I need, You let me see
The next bit of Your plan for me.


Friday, December 09, 2005


This is gonna be considerably quicker/shorter than my posts of late....promise!

Seriously, coz I juat wanna say THANKS GOD FOR FRIENDS!!! (that's my real life friends - yes, I have people willing to put up with me!- not the TV show. Although I love that too!)

Thanks God for giving me time with friends to
a) chill out
b) laugh
c) last but most definately NOT least - share God's goodness, God's evidence of grace and faithfulness in our lives, keep each other accountable, encourage and spur one another on to living lives more glorifying to our amazing creator.

It's so precious to spend time in fellowship, praising God together.

I've had a great night. And now I'm off to bed. Praise God for sleep! ;-)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


So on placement yesterday the SLT (Speech and Language Therapist, for the ill-educated among you) suggested that she feels I have problems in time management because she doesn't feel that the placement has been a priority for me this term.

Well, to put it plainly, she'd be right!

But it got me thinking (as these sorts of comments about workloads etc always do) about my priorities.

Because, to be fair, despite being in my 4th year, I'm sure my degree has not been a priority for me this term. (I can hear the gasps - the loudest coming from coursemates, and probably my parents....bear with me!)

Sat in her office yesterday, I felt I should apologise to the SLT for my lack of placement, and general-work-related, focus. I started worrying, and all the comments I've heard from (good) friends over the years came flooding back - "God brought you here to do a degree", "You're not serving God if you don't work hard at your course"...

Thing is, whilst I firmly believe that I should work to honour God even with the boringness of revision and essay writing - Colossians 3:23-24 is posted above my desk as a constant reminder of this for when I feel like getting distracted - I can't help but feel that God didn't bring me here JUST to do a degree. My degree is only part of the reason I'm here.

And whilst I genuinely enjoy my course (good job, that!) and am looking forward to becoming qualified (hopefully!), it's not my ultimate focus.

And whilst I want to do well and get good marks because I know that, in some way, I'm honouring God by using the gifts He's given me to be able to do so (and just because it's always nice to get good marks!), good marks are not really that important to me.

What's important to me is God. What's important to me is seeing people come to know Him. What's important to me is telling people about Him. (Romans 10:14). What's important to me is getting to know God better. What's important to me is seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ grow in Him.

And that's why, throughout most of my degree, but especially this term, my work has not been my priority.

Because I came back to Reading super-charged with an energy that only comes from God;
that only comes from having been part of and seen the great and awesome things He does in people's lives;
from catching just a glimpse, afresh, of how amazingly great, good, and gracious He is;
from wanting to see and feel and know and hear more of that;
from knowing that He will continue to move in people's lives;
from wanting to be part of that and serve Him in that because He is awesome in choosing to use us and because He deserves our service;
and because He is SO worthy to be praised that nothing else matters.

Please don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that doing stuff for church or cell or CU should always take priority over writing an essay or preparing a presentation or revising or whatever - because as I said, part of being at uni is to get a degree (some would say the biggest part) - and if God's brought you here then you need to work hard at and get that degree, and serve God to the best of your ability in that. (But I still firmly believe that it's important to get involved in church, cell and CU and serve using whatever gifts God has given you, for His glory).
And I'm not saying that doing stuff for God is a priority as much as I'm saying that living for and drawing close to Him is.

But what I AM saying is that, for me at least, my degree (and this goes for other things, not just my degree) is not the be-all-and-end-all. God has taught me, challenged me and encouraged me SO much this term - mainly through the lives of and conversations with the many fantastic Christian friends I have here. And also through seeing what He's doing in people's lives, the way He's moving in this place.

The eternal perspective, that's what it's all about.

And so, as I sat in her office yesterday and she implied that my priorities were wrong, I couldn't help feeling that, actually, they're right.

And I hope and pray that God will ALWAYS be my priority.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

RUCU Christmas Carol Service


Loved it tonight!

Was completely overwhelmed by how many people came - especially from Sherfield! WOW! And it was hilarious, as we were walking down we just kept bumping into people who joined was a bit reminiscent of the Pied Piper!

As I sat there before it started I felt so full of joy at knowing Jesus and SO full of joy at the fact that all these people were gonna get to hear about His birth and why He came....

And OF COURSE the icing on the cake was having a Welsh guy give the talk. Proper Welsh gospel passion there!

Yeah God - you're doing BIG stuff and I wanna serve you I wanna be telling people about you I wanna be living for You I wanna be more in the Word I wanna be more on fire.....I wanna see glory given to Your name.

Dunno what God's doin but I'm praying so much He'll keep filling us all with such a deep passion for His Name.....BRING IT ON!!!!!!


Although I WAS listening intently during church this morning (promise! see below!) I also wrote a poem during the service...


This painful world
Full of sorrow;
Grief and sickness
Dreading tomorrow...

These empty days
Full of sin,
Blinded hearts
Cold therein...

This fleeting life,
My hurried days
Consume my thoughts,
Tired ways...

This though will pass
Ending pain,
When in glory
He will come again...

This eternity
Neverending praise,
When I will see Him
As He is...

This I seek
Pushing on,
A friend I have
In Jesus, strong...

This consuming,
I live for You,
Death is defeated -
The eternal view!


What kind of greatness...

Basil Howlett spoke on John 11:1-22 this morning in church.

Lots of things came out of it:-

1. It is possible for true believers to be sick! None of this "if you're really a Christian you won't be ill or poor" rubbish. Look at verse 3. It says quite plainly that Jesus loved Lazarus, and yet he still got sick. And we know Jesus loves us, we know that true believers DO get sick.....the love of Jesus doesn't exempt us from sickness in life. The men and women of God are STILL men and women.

2. True believers know where they can turn in a crisis.
Look at John 10:40. Jesus was the other side of the Jordan but Mary and Martha knew they could turn to Him.


3. It's not unspiritual to consult a doctor or take medicine.
It's the Lord who gives doctors etc their skills, it's Him who puts the raw materials in the earth from which medicines are made. YES God CAN heal miraculously...but He has also given us medicine. Many people take 2 Chronicles 16:12 to mean that it's wrong to consult a doctor...NO, Asa was condemned not for seeing a doctor but for ignoring the Lord. We should BOTH see doctors AND seek the Lord!

4. Mary and Martha didn't CLAIM healing.
We have no claims on the Lord. We're sinners, and He deals with us in grace and mercy. Mary and Martha just told Jesus and left the matter with Him.

True Faith
Genuine Humility
Gracious Submission

God will ALWAYS do what's best for us. In our perplexity we may not be able to see that. But it's true.

Our time on earth is fixed. It's sure. Every Christian is immortal until their work is done.
"Plagues and death around me fly, Till He bids I cannot die" (John Ryland)

If Christ be God and gave Himself for me...NO SACRIFICE IS TOO GREAT!!!
The biggest thing for me this morning was being reminded of how wonderful God is, how much I get caught up in my own little problems or how much I let the world get me down. I needed so much to be reminded of how much God loves me (how rubbishly easily I forget!) and that WHATEVER happens He's with me. And also that WHATEVER I'm going through, he sent His sone to die for me and deserves nothing less than my all. (I should listen to myself more often!)

What kind of greatness is our amazing God. He rocks!

An attempt to put my mixed up thoughts into some coherent form...


Why am I so

(I could go on, of course...)

I can attempt to rationalise it. I can say it's coz I'm human and sinful. And it is. And I know that this side of eternity I'll never be perfect and I'm bound to mess up pretty much no matter how hard I try.

But I'm tired of using that as an excuse. I'm rubbish.

And WHY?

Why does God
accept me
love me
comfort me
provide for me
have patience with me...

(I could most certainly go on....)

I can attempt to rationalise it. I can talk about His outrageous grace, His immense Love. And it's true. And yet I know that, this side of eternity, I'll never fully comprehend it...

God is infinitely Good. Hallelujah.

The past week has been hard. I've been tired. Physically, mentally, and most definitely emotionally. There have been plenty of tears. (I'm saying this not coz I want sympathy but coz I want to share with you something of what God's taught me, and to see that you need to have at least a glimpse of how awful I've felt...!)

The thing is, I know there's more to come! The hurt isn't over, there are hurdles to jump, there are bridges to cross and there are scary, windy, misty roads to travel...

But I know it's for the best. I know that God is working in me and that no matter how painful it is to have Him chipping off edges and refining me, I know that He wouldn't be bringing me through it unless He knew I needed it, could get through it, and unless he was carrying me. And He knows the way..

James 1:2-4: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverence. Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."


That's hard....(bit of an understatement!)

My relationship with God over the past week has been rubbish (on my side, of course). I've been crying out to Him....but haven't really been listening. Begging for peace....but not really accepting. I've not been willing to really let go, to really surrender to Him, to give Him my heart and all that is within, to lay it all down for the sake of my King. I've partially done so.

But partially just isn't enough.

And yet He's held me. He's wrapped me in His arms and He's waited until I'm ready. Until I'm ready to let Him in, totally, utterly.

Again - why?!

The answer, I've been wonderfully reminded, is (at least in part), GRACE.

I stand in grace!!! There is no condemnation! Nothing can separate me from God's love!

So how has there been such a turn around in how I feel in a matter of days? How, on Wednesday, did I feel completely broken with no hope of being fixed and now I can sit writing about how wonderful God is?

Well, prayers have been answered. I've had the most wonderful support from friends. And God is Good.

This morning I felt decidedly better from the moment I awoke. And through the day/evening God has been gently, ever so gently, calling me to spend time just in worship to Him. Never mind my requests, never mind my questions, never mind my worries/concerns/doubts/fears. He's had all that the past couple days. What He wanted from me today (and deserves now and forever) was just my praise.

And so just now I stopped. I finally stopped trying to rationalise things in my own mind, to work solutions out on my own, to get by without Him (why oh WHY do I try?!) and I just sat in God's presence. I bowed down, I fell on my knees worshipping Him. Blessed be His Name...

Isn't it strange, isn't it utterly wonderful, that when you're in God's presence and giving Him praise, that nothing else matters.

I can put on a brave face, I can pretend to the world that I'm fine whilst inside I'm screaming. But I can't pretend to God. He knows me COMPLETELY.

And I'm so glad.

Like I said, I know there's more to come. I know that the turmoil I've been in isn't completely over. But it's ok. I love God and I want to be obedient to Him. (Joshua 22:5)

God arms me with strength and I stand completely in Him. It is, after all, the best place to be. He doesn't change.

"From this evening to all eternity, Thy will, not mine, be done.
Consume and rule and reign in me.
I yield up myself without reserve.
And I promise, with Thy help and power,
rather to give up the last drop of my blood,
than knowingly or willingly be untrue or disobedient to Thee."

God astounds me.

Let's continue to live in grace, looking forward to that day when we we will start the rest of eternity with Him.

And let's keep reminding each other that there is ALWAYS something to praise God for.

"My God is so vastly wonderful, so utterly and completely delightful, that He can, without anything other than Himself, meet and overflow the deepest demands of our total nature."
(A.W. Tozer - 'The Pursuit of God')