Thursday, 31 March 2011
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Monday, 28 March 2011
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Friday, 25 March 2011
Manic day ahead, preparing for a big Sunday where I am the guest speaker to about 150 14-25 year olds, Yorkshire Youth councils. Suddenly feeling not only nervous but old! Trying to formalise my notes which is a challenge in itself as i dont often use them but need to for a variety of reasons with this occasion. Much of my thoughts will and have been on this come follow me theme and I am wanting the young people to realise that Jesus is the example and the power than they need to follow and experience.
I am trying to work through however if this is really true in todays world. Please dont accuse me of heresy or of lacking faith. BUT is is really possible to live this close to Jesus today so that in everything we experience His will and power? I do believe it is but im not sure I am living in this reality? My sinfulness, my thoughts, my mouth indicate to me that Im not as close to the 'power source' as I could be? I dont think i am being hard on myself, just honest. But i really would like to see all the miracles we spoke of yesterday happening with my own eyes. I do believe this lenten experience is causing me to get closer to Jesus but Im still not close enough.
Knowing me, will I ever be in this place or will my character and personality mean that I will always seek for more?
Seek and you will find!!
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Or is it to do with the crazy hours i work?? Am I so busy that I miss out on the opportunity to 'BE!'
This atttractive life changing faith, in the person of Jesus living in me, is not being evidenced enough by others around me! Or is it?? As I reflect through lent on how I am living I really do want people to be intrigued and attracted to Jesus through my life. As I have reread through the notes so far I am mindful that the key theme thus far has clearly been following Jesus example and making sure that I live as he does. So I need to spend more time deliberately being with him so that my faith can become radically alive. Im not saying its not alive but is it 'oouzing' with life. When did I last see a person be healed or rise from the dead??
Today Im going to ask the Holy Spirit to amaze me through some unexpected thing, to show someone that Jesus is awesome! Thats what i long for deep down.
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Dynamic faith. Following Christs example and looking like him, thats what its all about, this Christianity??
The bible says he had no beauty or majesty (Isaiah 53:1-3), it also says that we should be like him in our attitude and mind (Philippian 2:1-11). I struggle to believe that he was not deeply attractive, because he just walked into streets, market places, peoples homes and from what we read and from what i understand people flocked around him. Clearly Jesus was deeply attractive!
He had charisma, he was full of the Holy Spirit, people were not only drawn to
Him but stood in awe of Him. BUT not because He was an egotist, and extrovert but because He was so humble. His confidence came through the power of His relationship with his father.
The more i think about how Jesus lived, the more i think about what that means for all His disciples, I cannot get out of my head, this question jumps back in, well if everyone was attracted to Him and then followed Him, why is it that people do not respond in the same way in my community and even nationally? Are we missing something of the experience of the gospel? Are we experiencing the gospel in all its fullness? Are we needing to seek after and experience more of the depth of the Holy Spirit and then let this experience pour out of us? Questions questions today?? Lots of them.....
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
Sir so do you believe in God? Do you Stan? What a great question and opportunity to talk about why we believe. I used to go to church but got fed up with it when I was younger. I then talked about how can you get bored with Jesus, and talked about what it would have been like to be around him. The dead come back to life, the blind can see, the lame can walk etc.
Christian faith is exciting and dynamic, not boring and onerous. What have we made it into? Do I comunicate through my life that same dynamic lifestyle? Do people get excited about Christ when they look at me? What a challenge
Monday, 21 March 2011
Well apparently to those in the know, you are supposed to take the Sundays off during lent from your 'self denial'? You take, I am told the 6 Sundays in lent off which then gives you the 40 days concept. I heard this yesterday and have been thinking about it. I dont get it!
Im told that the idea is that you break on the sabbath so that you do not become proud of your achievements in fasting?? Well I just cant go with this idea. I am either all in, dedicated to doing what has been asked of me or im not, there are no ways out, no easy options! This links to my thoughts early on about the need for sacrifice for complete devotion to the task of following Jesus. I dont want it to be comfortable, with ways out. This is im convinced yet another way of trying to 'water down' what is expected in the Christian faith walk today. I am probably wrong and it probably totally historical what was said abotu 6 days off but I do not want a day of from following Jesus. Well that how I see it......
O yes by the way headaches are lessoning but all this water drinking means i seem to be visiting our bathroom much more than ever.......
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Well i cant quite believe this. I have just been on the national rugby forum and someone has linked my blog to it on the basis of my refereeing performance yesteday. The followers are now not only talking about rugby but also my blog!!!
Ill restate then my point from the other day that people will judge Jesus through our lives! I wonder what they saw on the rugby field yesterday?
Let me share with you today what I experienced, which yet again links to this theme that keeps recurring, that being come follow me. I have already shared that when Jesus called his first disciples, i don't believe he called them to a way but to indeed follow Him. What Jesus was saying I believe was look at my life, watch what i do, watch what i say, watch how i respond and do likewise. Come follow ME! That calling must have been amazing........dead people rising, blind people seeing, the lame walking, the demons fleeing! Come follow me. And it even says you will do greater things than I have done!
So taking that all into account today I was blessed to experience what that means in a deeper way through creation. I was staying in a hotel, prior to my rugby game. My room looked out with a balcony onto a lake. I woke early to see the sunrise, amazing across the lake, so I sat on my balcony and saw 'creation wake up'. O lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider.....I was blown away and then as I travelled home from rugby as the sun set there was in the sky the 'super moon'. These were two magnificent examples of the majesty of creation.
God of creation, lived in the person of Jesus and it is this same God, the God of the sun and moon whom we are called by our names to follow. PRIVILEGE!!
Friday, 18 March 2011
The good news today is NO HEADACHE!! And not even missed coffee today..................
Thursday, 17 March 2011
I bear the name of Jesus and as such i am therefore
- I am expected to look like Jesus and
- people judge Jesus by what they see in me!
I just heard it said in regard to the church, it is like a teenager. A persons first name is their personal identity, who they are as an individual and their surname is there family name, the name that associates them with other members of their family. (George Lings is a brilliant thinker and communicator) Therefore if i apply this thought to the church, the church local needs to embody its local identity whilst retaining its global identity, its wider family characteristics. A great explanation of identity.
Jesus has called me to bear his name but allows me to be myself as well. I need to celebrate therefore the uniqueness and specialness of my life whilst maintaining Christs characteristics. this is taking me further in regard to what it means to follow....
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
I am at a planting summit with about 30 national leaders from across the Christian traditions who are all committed or responsible for church planting within their denominations. It is humbling to be in such exalted company. From Pentecostals to high church all have been inspiring one another. These are amazing people, with some great stories of peoples lives being transformed. The one biggest thing that has stood out to me is simple really. If we want people and communities to have their lives transformed, then we need, as I said yesterday to follow the lead of Jesus and live like Jesus. But is this really a realistic goal in our society? Yes of course it is and the stories that I have heard, including the ones that i have recounted are all about the person of Jesus who calls and transforms what once seemed dark, lost and hopeless.
Esther says I have been called for such a time as this, I am reminded that as a planter with the SA that this is true. I need and have to do my level best to make a way for others to follow and find Jesus. This is not just a local thing for me but has to be the national mandate that I have been privileged to be given. Lord this experience is calling me closer to yourself, thank you Lord!
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Anyway the highlight of these last hours has been the command yet again come follow me.....this text has been all around me in recent days. Interestingly the speaker added to this though, that we are to follow HIM, to look at Christ in everything we do, to be obedient to His leading. We are not called to follow some king of rules and regulations, some kind of spiritual laws and rituals we are called to DO AS JESUS DID.
This has inspired me today. I heard and it landed afresh upon my life. What was great as well about this was that Jesus in every situation had the last word! When you look at every struggle and miracle that faced and involved Jesus, He had the last word. There is power in the name of Jesus.
So I am claiming afresh today that name of Jesus, I will follow His lead and allow in everything I face HIM to have the last word.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Today is the first day when my head is not pounding away, well not yet. Fluid already downed and quiet time taken.
Two texts have flow into my mind this morning, come follow me and the john 21 don't worry about him you follow me. Keeping my eyes on Jesus needs to be my primary function especially in the next few days ahead. I am on my way to whats called officers councils for Yorkshire. This is a kind of retreat and bringing together of all the SA ministers across Yorkshire. I have not been for a number of years. Why? Because 1) i have not found them very inspiring in the past, 2) people seem to struggle with me and like to express that to me, 3) i don't really see the point!
Now given that in all things my response and actions need to be as if I am walking close to the Lord, and I'm not quite as patient and gracious at present as i should be, I need to make sure that I am listening and communing with Jesus in the hours ahead. If I keep my eyes on Jesus then everything else falls into place as He intends it. Theres a song that sits with this, Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.....in the light of his glory and face..
If I am to be credible as a minister I have to do as i preach. I so often say these words from john 21 what is that to you, you follow me...... The problem with people is not them it is me. I need in all things to be so 'obsessed' with my relationship with Jesus that everything and everyone is simply a blessing. Lord help me this day not to look to the left or the right....
Sunday, 13 March 2011
I felt led to lay myself bare before the church and talk about this experience and the challenge that God the Holy Spirit has issued to my heart. It felt good to share with people the wrestles of choosing to follow, My Jesus wherever He might lead! My body is physically struggling but this is doing me spiritually and emotionally good.
The Word says Choose this day whom you will serve.......I want to be the person God wants me to be. This feels like its helping me to do so? However just sat and ate my muffin not the same without a Flat White thou!!
Saturday, 12 March 2011
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
So this year I want to have my faith challenged. Facebook, chocolate, fizzy drinks, sweets, scrabble......all things which maybe I could have chosen to give up to help focus my mind and prepare for the significant event which is Easter. But is Lent just about chocolate!
I have gone through this whole process, and even thought what is the point? The thing that kept coming back to me was coffee! No more than chocolate or any of the above things i hear you say, well thats not true exactly.
You see......I am a coffee snob, unashamedly. I love good coffee, ideally Columbian or Italian to be exact. Our work office and site has numerous coffee machines and there is always the smell of coffee wafting through the rooms..... But here is the point. I need coffee!! And this is why I really believe I have to challenge myself to fast from it through the next 40 days.
I should not need and desire anything, if I am serious about faith?? There is a danger that we can become enslaved by substances, habits, beliefs that are no different, worse or better than things which we The Church and Christians so often pass judgment on.
What I need is a deeper more powerful more intimate relationship with Jesus......And before people say whats the problem with my faith and ministry.......I am not saying there is a crisis or anything of the sort I am simply visiting something in my life which may or may not be getting in the way of how I live out my Christian journey.
For Coffee's sake is actually for Gods sake and my good.
First challenge experienced. Do I tell people or keep it personal? If I keep this to myself then if I fail it wont matter, will it?? However I will know. I was saddened when I saw that a friend had failed in their lent journey in the first few hours, or so they said on facebook. I might fail but im going to try. If I tell people, especially those I work with then they will see and hold me to account!! They might even be surprised? They know how much I love my coffee......
The whole purpose is, remember Andrew, not to give up coffee but to go on a spiritual journey. So at staff prayers this morning I told them what I was planning to do. But I not only told them I asked them for help. You see as we journey in faith its not only God who helps us but our christian friends too. But to seek help you need to seek to live a transparent life. This already is hard work, living a disciplined life...or it is for someone like me.
Man I need a coffee!
Mother of all headaches..... at the end of the day. This has made me think, and re-emphasised the scripture i received this morning 'deny thyself.....' does it really cost to deny ourselves? I clearly am missing my 'fix'!! I'm glad in a way that I am already experiencing something of the pain of giving up. Of course this headache is nothing compared to the amazing gift of God, the sacrifice of Jesus. BUT we have made this Christianity stuff to comfortable in the UK. We moan all to quickly when it gets a bit tough and with it comes the temptation to do our own thing and to count the cost. I am going to do this.....God work a new thing of grace in my life I pray in this experience
My dear friend and inspiration, Lyndall emailed me last evening with these words which have helped me already today crystalise my thinking about why I am fasting and blogging. 'Prayer changes things, prayer changes our world. How will you pray this lent? Matthew 4:19 says Come follow me'.
When I said yesterday that I need coffee, that was true. But I really need to pray far more than I do. I need to be living in the presence of Jesus. I need as I have said before to be living with the dust from the rabbis feet upon my own feet. I need and desire to be closer to Jesus. The closer I am to Him the more unlike Him I realise I am. The more I realise that I need more of his energy love and power to drive me forward as a christian who really does desire to make a difference in this world today and who is not prepared to settle for meaningless empty 'nice christianity'.
Yesterday I really missed my cuppa, or three, or four. but every time I felt like this is focused my attention on Christ. If you like it was a trigger to pray. And so I prayed. The words which Lyndall tagged from Matthew 4:19 ironically are the words I have been focusing on in preparation for a big youth event I am speaking at, at the end of the month. These are clearly words I need to hear? Unlike Lyndall and others dear to me prayer is not the easiest thing for me but yesterday in the midst of the banging head it became a little easier. Take up thy cross and follow.......
I have been challenged by people as to why I am doing this, especially today. Its been the subject of serious and also funny conversations. No doubting today, that it is hurting! My reasonig is simply as I explained to one person. It is to use this time to focus my thinking and attention more onto Jesus. Everytime i want a drink I am being reminded to pray. (Today I have prayed lots!!)
Everywhere I have gone people are drinking coffee......the smell in the bunker kitchen as the house group met was just unfair, ha! However the one key thing i have gleaned today is this, that sacrifice is worth it, but it should cost us. I am thinking we have made sacrifice to easy and maybe we have not allowed it to be costly enough?? In fact have we removed sacrifice from Christianity when it comes to applying it to our own lifes? Have we really any idea in the west what it means to deny ourselves and follow, or have we made our christian faith into a nice little confortable religious package?
Do I want confortable christianity without the sacrifice? Matthew 11:28-30. 'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
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