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Monday, August 28, 2006

Trepidation/Excitement butterflies


Tomorrow is August 29th 2006. What's special about August 29th 2006?

It's been burned into my brain all summer as the day Relay starts.!


Excited? YES! For about a fortnight now I've been really longing for tomorrow. Really really just wanting to get on with it, to get stuck in, to get going. Excited that it's all really happening. Excited at meeting the other Relays. Excited at sharing with them, enjoying fellowship with them, getting excited with them. Excited at seeing Jess, Nu, Ed and Drew (haha it rhymes!) again.

But on the other hand...

I'm scared! (Just a little, mind you.) I'm scared at meeting new people. I'm scared at moving to Portsmouth and living with people I barely know. I'm scared at getting involved in a new and different CU. I'm scared that I'm not going back to Reading. I'm scared about leading a Bible study on Relay 1. I'm scared I'm not gonna be well enough to get enough out of it. I'm scared at being pushed out of my comfort zone. I'm scared I just won't be able to do Relay. I'm scared someone's gonna go "You? A Relay worker?! Uh-uh, someone made a mistake there!"

But one of the things that's been great about getting into Philippians in preparation for the studies is just seeing God's word speak to me afresh. I love Philippians and I've read it SO many times...but this time round I saw/learnt new stuff I'd never seen before, stuff that I really needed. God IS everything we need.

And it's been great to see a bit more of the guy God used to write the letter. Paul, who just lived and breathed Jesus didn't he. It's been great to see how everything Paul says revolves around Jesus, around the gospel. It's been challenging to think, am I like that. It's been encouraging to know that with God's help I can be.

So as I sit here right now I'm very much bopping between one emotion and the other. To be honest, I'm also scared that God's gonna do stuff. That's a good kind of scared though. I WANT God to do stuff in me, to change me. It's just not always easy. I'm longing so much to be at Quinta, because I'm longing to be in fellowship with the people I'm gonna be working alongside for the next year. I'm ready now. (Well I'm not, but I am, if you get what I mean!) I've enjoyed being at home, but I'm ready to get going. God's been teaching me and preparing me so much already, but I know there's SO much more to come - not just in the next two weeks of course - but I know that this two weeks are going to be fundamental to the year ahead; are going to be priceless for my walk with God; are going to challenge me, humble me, excite me, mould me, change me. That's just a little bit scary, yes.

But above all it's exciting. Because, and only because, we have an exciting God.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Lost in wonder

"You chose the cross with every breath
The perfect life, the perfect death
You chose the cross.
A crown of thorns you wore for us
And crowned us with eternal life
You chose the cross.
And though your soul was overwhelmed with pain
Obedient to death You overcame
I'm lost in wonder, I'm lost in love,
I'm lost in praise for evermore.
Because of Jesus' unfailing love
I am forgiven, I am restored.
You loosed the cords of sinfulness
And broke the chains of my disgrace
You chose the cross.
Up from the grave victorious
You rose again so glorious
You chose the cross.
The sorrow that surrounded you was mine
Yet 'Not my will, but Yours be done' You cried."

Martyn Layzell

"Marriage is pointless"

Apparently, according to the ever-wonderful Red Dragon FM, some 'ladies with clipboards' have been out on the streets of Newport today asking people about marriage.

It appears that most of the people they spoke to said that they only married for; the kids, money, or presents and a party. And the conclusion therefore generally seems to be that marriage is pointless...

Oh dear, not exactly what I wanted to hear as I prepare to go to a wedding tomorrow!

But the thing is, tomorrow I will see Naomi and Oli 'tie the knot' - and I know that they, just like James and Hayley in July and Oli and Rachel just two weeks ago (a different Oli!), do not think marriage is pointless. 22nd July and 12th August were not pointless days, and tomorrow will not be a pointless day. 22nd July and 12th August were not just excuses for a big party or lots of presents, and neither will tomorrow be.

Tomorrow will be a day of celebration. But it will celebrate far more than the world typically celebrates on a wedding day. It will celebrate not just the love Oli and Naomi have for each other, but the love God has for them and the love they have for God. Tomorrow we will all join with them in celebrating their relationship as a gift from God Himself and pray that their life together will be a ministry to others. As Naomi and Oli speak their vows tomorrow they will do so in the knowledge that richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, God will bind their marriage together by His grace and His love. They will speak those vows in the knowledge that their marriage is a gift from God.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Jesus, God's Son, being born as a human, in order to die the death and face the judgement that rightfully belongs to us. We will celebrate the cross not because of a weird fascination with ancient death penalties but because Jesus defeated the cross, he defeated death, he defeated the power that sin and hell had over his people. And in doing so he paved the way for a glorious relationship between us and God, our Creator. A relationship WE had destroyed and shunned and had no way or repairing ourselves. We will celebrate the ultimate relationship - not between Oli and Naomi, the 'relationship of the day', but between God the Father and Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit, and between us and God.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say...not being married myself I don't know that there is a lot I can say about it! But I DO know that marriage is not pointless. I DO know that it's exciting. I DO know that this excitement for marriage is another thing to be telling non-Christians about, just as telling them that church is exciting.

But then more than that I need to be telling people how exciting GOD is. Everything else flows from that. I don't know that people will really understand how exciting marriage is, or at least the real reasons why it's exciting, until they understand God (as much as our feeble minds can understand Him). Because if you say marriage is pointless, you say in effect it has no meaning, which is quite depressing really.

But in God we find our meaning. And that applies to our whole lives. Which, if you're married, includes your marriage. And that's exciting.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Post 1

Obviously not my first post, but hey, it's a bit different!

Actually there's a few things I wanna post on right now but they're all a bit of a muddle. Considered putting them all in one post but it wouldn't do to have you all as muddled as me now would it.

Would it?

Ahem. So what to post on first...

Well, I've been thinking a lot since I've been home about church. Still haven't got a lot to say, want to devote more time to thinking/reading/praying. I think the main reason I've started to think about church (especially 'how it works' if I can put it like that) is that I've come home, to a very small church, with very few youth, and a congregation with quite different ideas on how a service should run. There's a longing amongst some of the 'older' congregation, I think/hope, to be inviting younger people into church or, rather, to be making it more relevant, to make sure they're attracted to church and want to come.

[This is where Ceryn starts to think out loud...]

Now, when I spoke to some of the young people (and I still include myself in that description) a couple of weeks back about Christian things they can get involved in outside of church, and of ways they could support each other in their faith, I didn't want them to go away thinking that church was the boring thing you do on a Sunday and I was giving them exciting other Christian things to do during the week. I actually used the phrase "Church is exciting" - you should have seen their faces! Despite their efforts at politeness, there were a few chuckles. Unfortunately, I wasn't surprised.

But that challenged me, and it's a challenge I hope that I will take up, that my church will take up, that other churches - especially in this area - will take up.

Because church IS exciting! So why do young people (and, to be fair, people of all other age, shape, size and fashion too) often find it boring - whether they're from 'churched' homes or not?

I know that knowledge of the perception of church as 'boring' can often lead to the feeling amongst church congregations that we need to make church more relevant (not the gospel, mind you - that will always be 'relevant'). But we go through endless ideas - what if we have powerpoint, or children's/youth services, or fun games, or exciting youth leaders, or we meet in a pub, or...or...or...

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of those ideas. OF COURSE we should move with the times, we should go to where the people are (not expect them to come to us), we should be creative/inventive etc...

BUT - we shouldn't let those things become what church is about, or what we think church is about, or how we think we're gonna get people into church.

My point? Well, in my mind, what's gonna get people into church is the gospel. (Controversial, I know.)

Believe it or not, the gospel is true. We are sinners (I know that's a dirty word), we have rebelled against God, our creator, and tried to ru(i)n the world. And ourselves. And whoops, it just doesn't work. And God, being fair, cannot abide rebellious people in his perfect presence. We're in a bit of a pickle then, but Jesus, God's son, died a painful, terrible death on a cross to save our skins, take the punishment we deserve, and clear the way for us rebels to be where we were always meant to be, the only place we feel whole - with God.

The question I'm asking myself is, am I excited enough about that? Now that I have accepted Jesus as my Saviour and I'm looking to live in the shadow of what He's done for me, do I really show how exciting that is? And do I really believe that the gospel message will save others?

Because surely if I really believed it, if I really lived it out, if I really spoke it out - then people would be following me to church like the children followed the Pied Piper (only with a happier ending). Am I, are we, so caught up in making church relevant with the latest technology, or trying to come up with the coolest idea to attract people into church, that we've forgotten our first love?

Yes, as I said, there's a time and a place for everything else. But.

Gospel excitement is infectious excitement.

Just a thought.





Thursday, August 17, 2006

Running through my head right now...

1. Just HOW amazing is God's grace?! Seriously.

2. I feel I may be jumping on Bish and Ed's 'Piper is great' train.

3. I cannot get over God's provision for me re: Relay. Not everyone who I thought would support me financially has offered to, and some people who I never dreamed would support me in that way have been very generous. In my mind, it doesn't make sense. But that's what I love about God - His plans, not ours; what He can see/do, not what we deem (im/)possible

4. Just how much I love Philippians - there's so much there! And just how much more I saw when I actually prayed about it (duh).

5. I need to go cook dinner for the (paid) workers in the family; and I s'pose myself and Gethin. Not sure what category he fits into. 'Post-GCSE slacker' possibly. Oh those were the days...


This to listen to.

And when I've finished 'Future Grace', this, this, this, this and this to get my teeth stuck into.

**EDIT** and this!

Hmm, which one first?!

Challenged much

So here's a confession...the past few days I've been struggling somewhat with, well, impatience, I guess. In regards to my future, in regards to things I want, things I'd like to do...Whilst I've been crying out to God for answers and comfort, a part of me has also been not really ready to listen. Maybe coz I didn't think I'd like the answer or because the horrible sinful part of me still wants to do things my way...and even thinks that's better sometimes. Rubbish.

And so, in God's wonderful timing, Issy said something that REALLY made me sit up and take notice (and we weren't even talking about me!); and then I read chapters 13 and 14 of Future Grace the past two days. "Faith in future grace vs impatience" and "What guards the glory of God's soveriegn Grace".


Talking to Issy about her break-up with Calvin she said something along the lines of "I know God's led me to this point because I'm just getting so much closer to Him now and want to get closer to Him...And I know that if God's led us here then it's all fine because it's God, so, y'know, it's OK."

Because it's God, it's OK. Yeah.

So I hung up the phone a little dazed! Praising God for what He's doing in Issy, once more loving the fact that she challenges me so much and going Ok, God, it's ok. Help me trust that more.

So then I toddled off to read chapter 13. The first line?

"Impatience is a form of unbelief."

That kinda hit me smack between the eyes! Silly thing is, until I read it, I don't think I'd even realised that I was being impatient. But I realised it then! A form of unbelief? Piper goes on, "It's what we begin to feel when we start to doubt the wisdom of God's timing or the goodness of God's guidance."

He's right y'know (funny that). But it was the wake up call I needed from our gracious God who despite my stamping-feet-I-want-this-now-(please) type strop, has pointed out to me the error of my ways and called me back into His arms, where all is safe, where I don't need to worry about the future because God is in control. Where I don't need to drive myself round the bend overthinking matters; where I can be still and know that He will work all things together for my good and His glory. Now THAT is amazing. I mean, I get the 'His glory' part...but 'my good' as well?! Love.

More classic quotes from that chapter are:

"Specifically the glorious might of God that we need to see and trust is the power of God to turn all our detours and obstacles into glorious outcomes...In other words, the strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours. This requires great faith in future grace because the evidence is seldom evident." (pages 173-174)

"The fundamental thought is the universal government of God. All that comes to you is under His controlling hand. The secondary thought is the favour of God to those that love Him. If He governs all, then nothing but good can befall those to whom He would do good...Though we are too weak to help ourselves and too blind to ask for what we need, and can only groan in unformed longings, He is the author in us of these very longings...and He will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from all that befalls us." (Quoting Benjamin Warfield, page 176).

"The power of patience flows through faith in the future, sovereign grace of God." (page 179)

"Faith in future grace is faith in grace that is sovereign, and sovereignty that is gracious." (page 180)

So I mulled that over. And finally began to give God my anxieties, my thoughts, my impatience...and started to ask that He would turn it into patience, that glorifies Him.

I happened across "You led me to the cross" when I was playing the piano. Oh, that God would keep me near the cross. When I'm near the cross, I have no chance of getting impatient, or of wanting to do anything else that dishonours my Saviour.

And then I read chapter 14 - What guards the glory of God's sovereign grace. And here, I'm reminded that I shouldn't be trusting God just because it stops me going crazy or because then I feel safe, but also because I just should. Because He gets the glory then. And I want Him to have all glory.

Again, first line: "All future obedience to God will be by the power of future grace." A-ha. NONE of this is down to me. So I'd better not try to get all wonderful and patient on my own. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit, God's spirit, not mine. And it is by God's grace we are equipped with this fruit.

" fits with grace and channels it to obedience so that we boast not in our resources but in God's grace." (page 186)

"As we ponder how to live the Christian life, the uppermost thought should be: How can I magnify rather than nullify the grace of God?...Faith calls all attention to grace and magnifies it, rather than nullifying it." (page 187)

"As Paul contemplates the next moment or the next month or the next year of his life, what he sees is the living Christ ready and able to work in him what is pleasing in God's sight and to work all things together for his good. So Paul trusts him. And in this way future grace works its good work in Paul's life and ministry." (page 188)

"If you and I are to live by faith in the hourly fellowship and perfomance of Jesus on our behalf, we need to set our minds steadfastly - starting now - to consciously think of him and look to him and trust his promise: 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you...I am with you always, even to the end of the age...I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand...[I will work in you] that which is pleasing in [God's] sight' (Hebrews 13:5; matthew 28:20; Isaiah 41:10, Hebrews 13:21)." (page 188)

"Therefore the faith which magnifies grace, instad of nullifying it, is future-oriented confidence in the wisdom and power and trustworthiness of God to do what he has promised. And this faith in future grace is the faith through which we are justified. It stands on the great achievements of past grace in the cross and resurrection but it does not remain in a past-oriented posture. It looks forward to all the inexhaustible future grace that those past achievements obtained and guaranteed." (page 191).

Encouraged? Yeah! Challenged? Much.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Photo update - Oli & Rachel's wedding (2)

Photo update - Oli & Rachel's wedding (1)

I'm back!

I have returned safely from the wilds of the midlands. Phew!

Surprisingly not that many photos...had lots of fun tho and was so nice to chill with Kat and Jess...and Oko the dog! I think this photo will suffice (which I didn't even take!) taken on a very windy Sunday afternoon!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Let the good times roll

I'm off to have fun!

Going to stay with Kat today, with Jess joining us tomorrow (which is a pure recipe for all things crazy) and coming back on Sunday. With Oli and Rachel's wedding in the middle (Saturday).

No doubt a couple of photos to appear here when I return...


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Lifestyle choice?

In church on Sunday Roy, our pastor, talked about how Christianity has done damage to the gospel - how people may be intrigued by Jesus but put off by Christians. Whether it's the way they live and they see hypocrisy, a lack of integrity...whatever the reasons, it happens and it's sad. I'd spoken in church about Relay and at the end Roy came up to me and said "This year, make sure you focus on Jesus, and not Christianity. At 61, I'm becoming more and more intrigued by Jesus, and more and more disillusioned with aspects of Christianity."

Good advice - it's always gotta be about Jesus. So why the problem? Why are non-Christians so put off by 'Christianity'? I'm kinda thinking out loud here but maybe one reason is the lack of honesty in the church. The topic of honesty has been batted around on blogs a little recently. It needs to be evident in the church. We need to admit our failings and admit that we are sinful even as Christians (shock horror). So many non-Christians I talk to say "Oh, Christians think they're so perfect." This really gets to me because the point is, isn't it, that we recognise we're not perfect. But we shouldn't be giving off the impression that we are. We need to own up to our sinfulness and not try and create some super impression in front of our non-Christian - or even Christian - friends. Let's not make light of our mistakes or boast about them in any way - sin is sin and it dishonours God - but let's ackowledge that we stuff up. And let's acknowledge why that's ok if we're in Christ.

I guess part of why we don't boils down to the fact that we don't want to admit to other Christians that we get things wrong. Part of that is pride. A big part. And also we perceive every other Christian as being totally sorted with God and never struggling in their faith, never doubting, never doing anything as bad as the stuff we've done (as if there are 'levels' of sin). It's a pressure we put on ourselves usually, and we do the same with non-Christians. Thinking that if they see our sin, they won't wanna know Jesus. But the thing is, they will see us sin. But when they do, we need to tell them the gospel. God is bigger than our sin.

And I guess another reason people dismiss Christianity is that they think "It's just not for me". How many times have you heard that expression? It's because they see Christianity merely as a lifestyle choice. They don't see it as having any meaning, it's just a way you choose to live the same as someone chooses to do x or y. The same as, say, someone who chooses to be vegetarian, or to eat certain foods because they think that's healthier, or to do this or that. They think, as long as you're sincere, as long as it works for you, it doesn't matter.

In the post today arrived two shiny new books for me from IVP (they were reduced and I couldn't help it. Birthday money well spent though methinks). Anyway, one of them is called "But don't all religions lead to God?" by Michael Green. In the first chapter he addresses the issue of sincerity and rightly points out that the "it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you're sincere" argument is total rubbish. Hitler, after all, was sincere.

Being a Christian isn't about sincerity in that sense. It's about truth.
Christianity isn't just some other lifestyle choice. It's this attitude that not only blinds people to the truth of the gospel and turns them off Christianity when other lifestyle choices look so more attractive, but it's also unfortunately the attitude that can mean poeple 'backslide' once they've made a commitment. I know that's the case with my youngest brother. Having made a commitment on camp a few years ago he now has turned his back on Christianity, and God. He fails to see that the fundamental issue at first isn't whether he lives like a Christian but whether he believes that Jesus is the Son of God. His words to me were "I've tried living as a Christian, and it's just not me." Those words smack of "Look, I've tried this lifestyle ok but it's just not for me, I'm gonna try something else". The underlying message behind his words is that he wasn't focusing on Jesus or the truth of the gospel or the strength of God to get him through teenage troubles and life's difficulties, but he was trying to live in the right way, as he thought he should live, as he perceives a Christian should. And that is the attitude that leads to legalism - trying to base your life, your merits, on what you do. And of course, that fails, because you will never live up to the pressure you put on yourself. And we will never live up to the standard we need to without Jesus.

Christianity isn't just some other lifestyle choice. The question I'm asking myself is, do I make it look like that? Do my family and friends think I'm a Christian just because that's what I do; because I have this social group I meet with every Sunday and during the week; because CU is just another club; because I get to organise events and things and it gives me stuff to do and get involved in; because by going to church I'm somehow making myself right with God; because I've found my niche?

Or do they know that I'm a Christian because I've had my eyes opened to the truth of the gospel - that there is nothing I can do that will get me right with God, that Jesus has done it all? Do they know that church/CU/house group/prayer meetings aren't just social activities but time spent with family, learning more about how great God is and praising Him? Do they know that these things excite me not just because I'm spending time with friends but because God excites me? Do they know that whatever I organise or don't; whatever I'm involved in in the church or not, that is not my value; my value comes from knowing I'm a child of God?

Do they know that yes, I've found my niche, in the arms of my loving Heavenly Father; do they know that it's their niche too?

They'll only know that if I live it, and if I tell them. If I demonstrate through actions and words that this isn't just another way to live; it's the way to live. I need to speak more. Because when someone looks at your life, especially nowadays with all the different 'lifestyles' being batted around in the press as good for you in different ways, it's easy for them tothink that being a Christian is just another fad, just another lifestyle, just another social thing.

It's not. Praise God for that, and Oh Lord, give me the strength and courage to live as though I'm living for Jesus, not as though I'm following the rules of a lifestyle; and to tell people the gospel, for Your glory.

Piper-rific and God-tastic

"We cannot survive as Christians if we do not find strength to endure affliction. God's answer to this necessity on the narrow road is future grace. And future grace is the power of Christ perfected in our weakness. Make sure you don't miss the point here. The grace for endurance - even glad boasting in weakness - is not primarily looking back to bygone grace. It is looking forward to the next moment's and next month's arrival of the power of Christ to do for us what we absolutely despair of doing ourselves.
This is future grace.
Sometimes in the midst of these afflictions and ordinary stresses of daily life we may cry out, 'How long, O Lord? I can't see beyond today's pain. What will tomorrow bring? Will you be there for that affliction too?' This question is utterly urgent, because Jesus said, 'The one who endures to the end, he shall be saved' (Mark 13:13). We tremble at the thought of being among 'those who shrink back to destruction' (Hebrews 10:39). We are not playing games. Suffering is a horrible threat to faith in future grace.
Therefore it is a wonderful thing to hear Peter promise the afflicted and weary Christians, 'After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you' (1 Peter 5:10). The assurance that he will not delay beyond what we can endure and that he will abolish the flaws we bemoan and that he will establish forever what has tottered so long - that assurance comes from 'all grace' - including the infinite, inexhaustible stores of future grace. Faith in that grace is the key to enduring on the narrow and hard way that leads to life."
John Piper - "Future Grace" pages 69-70

"One way to be humble is to cast your anxieties on God. Which means that one hindrance to casting your anxieties on God is pride. Which means that undue worry is a form of pride. Now why is casting our anxieties on the Lord the opposite of pride? Because pride does not like to admit that it has any anxieties. And if pride has to admit it, it still does not like to admit that the remedy might be trusting someone else who is wiser and stronger. In other words, pride is a form of unbelief and does not like to trust in future grace. Faith admits the need for help. Pride won't. Faith banks on God to give help. Pride won't. Faith casts anxieties on God. Pride won't. Therefore the way to battle the unbelief of pride is to admit freely that you have anxieties and to cherish the promise of future grace in the words, 'He cares for you'."
John Piper - "Future Grace", page 96

The timing of me reading those words today is remarkable. Not just that I read them on the day I needed to, but even at the very minute that I needed to.

I love God :-)

Here is love?

From the talk in church on Sunday:

Hebrews 13:1-10.

Hebrews reads more like a sermon than a letter, with warning after warning throughout it. Chapter 12 -the God who calls us to serve Him is a consuming fire. God's love knows no bounds. A passionate love for humanity. His love refines and purifies those who come to Him in repentance and faith and burns up those who refuse Him. Fire is the same. It's the material of our lives that lends itself either to refinement or insineration.

Live with a willingness to serve God and grow in Christ.

Chapter 13 - exultation which reverberates throughout the New Testament: 'Keep on loving'.

Andrew Murray:
"The command of our text reminds us of how love may wax cold and how it may be sadly wanting in the church."

Judaism got in the way of the gospel of Christ in Jesus' days. But through the centuries, Christianity has gotten in the way. We need to face up to the fact that it's not always other religions whichdivert people away from the gospel.

How often are people intrigued by Jesus but turned off by Christians?

"Alas, how little has Christ's church proved that it has its birth from the God of love..." (Andrew Murray)


SHOW HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS. There's a caveat there - you may entertain angels. It's strange, but in our society it seems that the more we benefit materially, the less we entertain and the more we shut ourselves off with our possessions. How often is it that it is those with nothing who are the kindest in opening their doors and sharing what little they have with joyful hearts.

SHARE OTHERS' SUFFERINGS. Identify. Empathise.Show a love that cares, shares, is authentic and real.

DON'T LOVE MATERIAL THINGS. Remember, where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.

Hebrews 13 is a very practical chapter. Echoes of 1 Corinthians 13 - if I have not love, I am nothing. Demonstrate it!

God says He will never leave us and never forsake us. Where we place our trust is SO vital. "Too much interest in earthly things inevitably weakens ourhold on God." - Andrew Murray.

Don't worry. Seek first the kingdom of God. What can man do to me? (verse 6).

If you think about it, there are plenty of examples you can find from your own life and the lives of others which should encourage you to live by faith. But those often arent enough to keep us going. So look to Jesus. Look to His consistency. the same yesterday, today and forever (verse 8).

All that He has been, He will be forever. All that He will be forever, He is today. So therefore, all that He is, past, present and future, He is today.

Jesus is both sacrifice and sustenance. He is our provider of resources that call usto live differently and to be Jesus to the world. We have to die with Him. We can't do it in our own strength. We are called to be a people who God can refine.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bring on the 9-5

So today I finished work early. Which woulda been cool if it hadn't been coz I felt rough. At first I thought I'd caught the horrible bug thing my bro had over the weekend but I don't think it's that. Think I'm just exhausted through just not being able to sleep for past couple days (nights) and getting bouts of pain again ain't helping. But hey, no more work for me for the next three weeks before Relay 1. It's rest and study time. Woohoo!

I don't really know what this post is meant to be about.

Oh, something I was gonna blog on the other day -

One of the things I've been doing in work (just to clarify, at a Christian organisation) is data entry (yawn). I've done it loads before - mainly involves putting people's names and addresses on the database. But the other day it suddenly got all exciting. Or rather, I got excited coz I was putting in people's jobs. I'd been going for about 3 hours, typing in loads of different jobs, some of which I'd never heard of and then suddenly, wham, got all excited by this thought:
"These are all Christians! Wow! So that means, look at all these people who are out in the workplace (hopefully) living for Jesus and speaking for Jesus" (How UCCF-ified am I?!)

And then I just felt totally compelled to pray for everyone whose name and job I was entering onto the database. Probably shoulda been doing that anyway, then the previous three hours wouldn't have been so dull. But just HOW exciting is it?! And it got me really excited about working. Probably the wrong time to get excited about it when I'm just about to start Relay. And I'm SO looking forward to starting Relay. I wanna start tomorrow. (Except not, coz I've not done everything Roz told me to yet! hehe) But I do, I just wanna get to Portsmouth and get stuck in.

But at the same time I'm SO excited about working next year. And I'm well excited that I get to spend a year on Relay first, learning even more about God and letting Him prepare me for whatever job I'm gonna get, wherever it's gonna be, with whoever it's gonna be with. And being a Christian in the workplace. Woohoo.

Oh, and playing loadsa fun games with kids and stuff...can you say a 's' for me?!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm so glad it's Saturday

It seems the insomniac blogging fever has hit me. Woohoo. I think I'd rather be asleep but after tossing and turning for nigh on 3 hours I decided hey, what better things are there to do in the wee hours than blog?

Today something got me rather riled. In fact, it's an issue that has gotten me riled on previous occasions. The whole love/wrath/justice/etc issue. I'll do my best, at 2.30am, to make this coherent. And as little a rant as possible. (But bear in mind I get cranky when I really want to sleep and can't!)

I was reading through a blog today and came across an old post where this guy, a Christian I think, said he just doesn't believe that Hell exists, he doesn't believe that God would allow people to go to hell, and he doesn't see how anyone who does believe that can just go about their daily lives.

This made me wonder what his alternative to hell is because, well, there has to be a punishment for our sin -there has to be a line drawn somewhere. And reading the comments on his post got me thinking again about how we often like to make God 'fluffy' and talk only about love, not about wrath/anger because God is so lovely that He couldn't possibly be angry. Ever.

Now if I start to talk about the whole God's love vs wrath thing I will start to rant because try as I might to understand why some think that God's wrath and justice are incompatible (I have one or two good friends who take that line of thought), I just can't. To be perfectly honest with you I just don't see why there is a need to separate love and wrath. Someone in work said today, when we discussed this, that it's like trying to separate right and wrong. You can't have one without the other, because if you didn't have 'wrong' then you wouldn't know what 'right' is. Like on my course, we had to do a child study on a normally developing baby, because if we didn't know what was 'normal', how would we ever be able to spot if there was a problem?

Maybe those are silly examples. But the point is that God's wrath does not make Him any less loving. The point is that, for me anyway, His anger at sin makes His love for us all the more amazing. It demonstrates His love more clearly because of how real His anger at sin is.

There's also the issue of God's anger being different to our anger. Our understanding of anger has very negative connotations - God's anger is different. It's Holy anger.

Anyway, I started talking about it and look what happened. For a much more coherent blog on the subject read this.

Moving on.

Someone commented on aforementionned blog something along the lines of the fact that some churches use hell as a way of scaring people into becoming Christians. I really hope that isn't the case!
Anyway, please, someone wiser than me correct me if I'm wrong, but in my mind becoming a Christian is not just about escaping the fire of hell. Becoming a Christian is about bringing glory to God, about recognising your need for, and accepting, forgiveness. About becoming who you were created to be. About being in a relationship with your creator - who just so happens to be the Living God.

Whilst I don't think the whole 'fire and brimstone judgement day is coming you must repent now' line is necessarily the way to go, I do think we should tell people about hell. Hell is real, and it's not pretty. But we also need to tell people why they need to repent. We need to tell them the gospel. And we need to major not on the destructiveness of sin and the doom and gloom but on the fact that Jesus has saved us from all that. Focus, people, it's a matter of focus. Yes, hell exists, it is real and yes we are sinful and yes God is just and yes He punishes sin because He is Holy and cannot be in the presence of anything sinful - but YES GOD HAS SAVED US FROM AN ETERNITY WITHOUT HIM THROUGH JESUS' DEATH ON THE CROSS, WHERE HE TOOK GOD'S ANGER AT OUR SIN UPON HIMSELF AND THEN DEFEATED THE POWERS OF SIN AND DEATH AND HELL BY RISING AGAIN, THEREBY OPENING THE WAY FOR US, IN ACCEPTANCE OF THE SALVATION HE OFFERS US, TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM FOR ETERNITY.

One thing this guy said on his blog I did agree with though. He said, if we believe in hell, how can we just go about our daily lives. He has a point. Whilst I wouldn't march up to someone who's not a Christian and make it my task to inform them of the ugliness of sin and hell - the whole 'fire and brimstone' tactic - I do think my knowledge of sin and hell should have more of an impact on me in the sense that I should be more aware of just what my non-Christian friends are facing. But then, Jesus' achievements on the cross should have that impact on me too. As should my desire for God's glory.

I was speaking to a good friend the other week who is going through a time of real questionning as regards God, her faith and the universe. She said one thing that suddenly hit her wa that, if Jesus did what the Bible says he did, then that wasn't just for her and she shouldn't be keeping it to herself, she needs to be telling people urgently, she needs to be pointing people to Him because it's so important. She's right.

What I find hard when I remind myself of the reality of hell and the truth of the gospel is that I very often have this urge to march up to everyone I know who isn't saved, even complete strangers on the street, and literally shout in their faces that Jesus loves them, proclaim the gospel before they have a chance to ask me why I'm shouting, and stress how utterly important it is that they commit their lives to God right this minute. I don't think that's really a wise idea...but it reminds me of how much I need to get down on my knees in prayer. Because it isnot about me, only God can change people's hearts. And He does. That's the amazing thing. Despite our rejection of Him and our delight in all sinful things which deeply offend Him...He loves us. He loves us so much that He was prepared to divert His anger at us onto His son. His son Jesus loves us and His Father so much that He was prepared to go to the cross and take that anger upon Himself. His love is amazing.

When I was tossing and turning and thinking about this earlier (no wonder I couldn't sleep) I started to think, should I be getting so riled up about this? Should this really be getting me so frustrated or is it a bad thing?

I came to the conclusion that I believe the doctrine of penal substitution is true. I believe it to be true so passionately and so passionately believe it is what the Bible teaches that yes, it is a good thing I take it seriously when people don't think this is what the Bible says. However, I also came to the conclusion that I need to not get hot-headed about this. Some people don't agree with me because they just don't see it. Me getting hot headed isnt' going to help that.

(sigh)...insomniac blurt over. Let's see if I can sleep.

Friday, August 04, 2006


cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Photo update - Hayley and James' wedding

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Earley - 22/7/2006.