Trials

•May 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

James 1:2: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds

Amen to these words! It is not during the soft times when everything is going right and well that our faith grows in leaps and bounds. It is not in those times when evrything in our lives is great that we turn to God and call on him for help. It is during the dark times that we grow. When the shadows close in and there seems to be no hope of help or escape from our worsening situation, THAT is when the light of the Lord shines most brightly to us. It is then that we are forced to give up our foolish beliefs that we are in control of our lives. It is then that we must openly admit and cry out to our Lord and Creator-you are everything Lord, and I need you.

As Christians, whether we like it or not, we must give all of our lives over to God. There are no half measures in the journey through faith. You cannot be a Christian one day out of seven and live how you like the rest of the time. Being a Christian is about surrendering yourself to God. Giving yourself to he who created you and allowing him to work His mighty will on your life. It is not an easy thing to do for real. It is all to easy when things are going well to say “Lord, all of this is because of you, thankyou”. It is a much harder thing to say such a thing in the hard times when there seems to be no hope. But those times are used by God too. They are our times of testing, the times when our faith is put to the test. Pray that we will not be found wanting!

Pray to the Lord for strength during these times my friends. He will never test you more than you can take, and when you need strength call out to him, and he will provide. But as it says in James 1:6 to 8: But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Believe, therefore, dear readers!  Know that the Lord loves you, and will shelter you during all times. His strength and power will flow through you when you need it most. All it takes is faith. Amen!

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God is like…a SatNav!

•May 14, 2010 • 1 Comment

Proverbs 21:16:  A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.

 Ok, so I’m driving to the Christ Church weekend after work on a Sunday morning. It’s a miserable day, lots of drizzle, and I’m feeling the burn from doing a night shift and then going on this long journey. I have no idea how to get there, but fortunatly I have that ultimate tool for a driver on my phone, the Satnav! And so, tired but eager to reach my destination and join my friends in worship, I programme in the postcode and set off.

I seem to be driving for hours and getting nowhere. Horrendous roundabouts that make me glad it’s Sunday morning and thus the roads are relitivley empty, dodgy farm tracks that are barely wide enough for my small motorbike let alone someone in a car, and massivly long straight bits of road that would be great if it weren’t for the 30mph speed limit. And then I see a sign to a place I recognise. Not the centre where I’m supposed to be going to, oh no. This is a sign to Chelmsford! For some reason that at the time I could not fathom, my Satnav has taken me round in a massive semicircle rather than going in a straight line. How insane! How crazy! What on EARTH was the point in that?! However, having no idea what else to do, I continued following it’s intructions. Short of turning round and going back, what other choice did I have?

To my amazement, I arrived at my destination a short time later. Imagine my relief, my joy! My Satnav had not failed after all, my phone was not going to be destined to be flung to the ground in rage, and I was free to worship with my friends.

On the return trip, I remembered the trip down, and decided to ignore the Satnav. I would follow the road signs, and ignore the messages being repeatidly shouted in my ear by my phone. So, despite countless advisories to turn around, I followed the signs to Chelmsford, convinced I knew best. After all, am I not more knowledgeable than a machine? Are the road signs not put there to guide us safely to our destination?

The return trip took me twice as long, as by following the signs rather than listening to the Satnav, I drove slap bang through the middle of harlow. I was NOT impressed. However, it did get me thinking. And so, after this long rambling story, my conclusion is this: God is like a Satnav!

The road He takes us on is not always clear. There are many times when we feel we know better, that our choices and ideas are better than his. We walk our own path, convinced that God is wrong and that our way will be easier. And we suffer for it. We suffer because in our arrogance we do not listen to Him no matter how many times he tells us what to do. I urge you therefore, dear reader, to always remember this message. Though God’s way is mysterious, though it is often impossible for us to see where His way is leading us, or how it can be the best way for us, nevertheless it is! He is God, he knows all and sees all! He has a plan! He does not think in terms of hours or days, he sees the big picture, the fulfillment of his will and his promise to us! Praise God and follow him always, through darkness and confusion, through doubt and fear. Trust him always, and let your faith be the light you follow along the road that he has set for you.

Amen, all glory to God!

And you thought I was done…

•May 4, 2010 • 1 Comment

Okay, been a while since I’ve written anything I know. I could blame my recent illness, though since this lasted only over the last two days and I haven’t written on here for months, such a claim would me blatantly senseless. The truth is, it is hard sometimes to put these things that are given to us down onto pen and paper (or indeed key and screen). They can be so much more mundane than when they arrive in our head from our Lord. We read and re-read, rephrase and tweak slightly, and they still never come across quite as good as when they came to us. Well what do we expect?! We are trying to emulate the words and ideas that God himself has given us! Who are we to even expect to be able to put things as perfectly as he does?! All we can do is write, and pray that  Jesus will do the rest, to open the minds and hearts of those who are our readers. Amen!

So after two days of meditation and fasting (actually, two days curled in bed groaning and calling on god for my stomach to stop churning PLEASE!) and after a splendid feast to recover, the weight of which still sits on my stomach these ten hours later (my thanks Alan!) I have come to the conclusion I must write. Today’s will be an explanation, and justification of sorts. I’m not sure it’s needed, but it came to mind, and so I’ll put it down and see what happens.

The thing I feel that needs explanation, the thing that I need to justify, is my sense of humour. An odd thing to justify, I admit, but bear with me. Many’s the  time I have been discussing God with my friends (christian and non-christian) and many’s the time I’ve cracked a joke at or about God, and they’ve cringed. Literally, they’ve “ducked and covered” as I believe is the technical army term, as if expecting a lightning bolt to fall and strike me for my insolence.

Now I grant you, for some of the things I’ve said he might well be tempted. But the God I know, loves me, and I love him. If you cannot share a gibe and a giggle with those you love without causing offence, if indeed those jokes and wry comments to not constitute affection, then I admit, I am at a loss. To me, being able to have a laugh and a joke with someone is one of the most powerful signs of love. To know you can say absolutely anything to embarrass this person, and they will take it in the manner it is meant. Or if they do not, that they will forgive easily your mistake in pushing too far. And, indeed, that they can do the same to you. Is that not love? God, I believe, has a sense of humour. I am grateful he felt it right to share some small part of that with me.

Lord, I thank you for laughter. I thank you for the ability to express our love for others in all the myriad of different ways. Each of those ways different, but all conveying the same thing. May our love for others, and through others you, continue to grow. May it encompass the world, so that all may know the power of your love. The love that loved us so much, he died for us. Amen!

A prayer, and a decision.

•March 19, 2010 • 1 Comment

Another great homegroup last night, and another feeling of epic failure for me at the end. How wretched a feeling it is to be given something to do by God and to be too afraid to do it! Not even a difficult thing really, not even a complicated thing. Merely something that God tells us it is good to do. Enough is enough. I refuse to allow my fear to become an obstacle between myself and God. And I know he’ll be with me as I get over it. Would appreciate any prayers you can spare for me guys!

Lord, we know that being a Christian, following your perfect plan, is rarely going to be easy. You command us to do things that we do not wish to do, to step out in faith when we might rather sit in a zone comfort. Help us to understand, mighty Lord, that what we wish, what we want, is unimportant. Give us the strength to step up to the goals you put before us, to the targets you set us as we walk the path you have laid out for us. Help us to overcome the barriers we put up inside ourselves that prevent us from becoming more like you.

Lord Jesus we know you understand what we are going through. We are weak, Lord, and broken. We are given so much to know through the words in your book, and yet all that knowledge is nothing if we cannot bring ourselves to act upon it. We know you are always with us Lord, for you are a mighty and loving God. Help us to trust you, and to do what you command us to do. Help us to walk as you wish us to walk, and not stagnate by standing at a crossroads, knowing which way is the right way to go but still unable to choose.

In your awesome and powerful name Lord, we pray.

Amen.

Jude verse 3

•March 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today I read the book called Jude in the New Testament. It is only a short book (barely two pages in my NIV bible) but it has a lot of ideas and warnings that I think we would all do well to heed.

In Jude verse 3 it says “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” When I first read this I took it to mean that we must fight for our faith. To stand tall against the wiles of the enemy with God as our shield and our armour. To continue with our faith through all things, staying true to our Lord and saviour. As I thought about this, though it sounded great, it did not feel exactly right. So I looked up the exact meaning of contend on the ever useful dictionary.com.

1.

to struggle in opposition

 2.

to strive in debate; dispute earnestly

 3.

to assert or maintain earnestly

 All three of these definitions, I feel, can be applied to the word contend in this context. It is our duty, and indeed our joy, as Christians to stand in front of the world, living our lives as God intended. Showing others through the way we act and behave the awesome love and mercy that our God has for us all. And it is our joy to do this despite, even because of, all the things the enemy throws against us. It will hardly ever be easy, but we know the cost, and we accept it gladly. This then would be the first of the meanings of the word contend.

 The second of the meanings tells us how we should fight. Not with violence or with blows, but with discussion and words. It is the word of God that needs to be spread, and that word will be spread by our words as much as our actions. People can see and feel the glory of Gods Holy Spirit moving in us, but is often only through our words, given to us by God, that they will come to faith themselves.

In the third of the meanings the important word is earnestly. We cannot spread the word of God half-heartedly. It is not something that we can decide one day would be good to do but the next day we can’t be bothered or have more important things to do. There is nothing more important! With the world as it is today this is a hard thing to grasp and hold onto. We are constantly bombarded with things that absolutely MUST be done, and items that absolutely MUST be had. But none of these are any substitute for the amazing feeling of “rightness” that comes from spreading the word.

Some of what I have written here may seem obvious, so much so that it seems a waste of a blog space to put it down. Maybe so, but it is the obvious and simple truths that can so often get lost and left behind as we walk on our journey with Christ. Though I know some will not approve of the analogy I am about to use, I will use it anyway, because I feel it’s a good example. In martial arts, you begin by learning the basics. A few simple moves, a block, a strike, a sweep. From there you advance and the moves become more complicated, the actions more convoluted, but when you strip it all down it comes back to those same basic moves you learnt all those years ago. Without the basics, the whole thing falls apart.

Praise God, for he is good. May the words I write be true to his Book, and may they accomplish the purpose for which I was called upon to write them.

To ask or to command?

•March 16, 2010 • 2 Comments

  Luke 8:25 NIV: He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

 I love prayer. I love praising God, worshipping him, putting my problems before him and having him help me with those problems. The results of prayer are incredible to witness. To pray for a thing, to give it to God, and to have that prayer answered is truly an amazing thing.

BUT…

Here’s the thing. To my mind, sometimes prayer in the traditional sense is not what is called for. It’s not that such prayer is no good, or that it is insufficient, but that it is simply not the called for way to deal with something. Instead I have been thinking on the above passage, and meditating on what it means.

Many things in life that we come across should be prayed into. When we are wondering what we should be doing, what His plan is for us, when we need comfort or reassurance, we have prayer. However some things, call for commands, and I think Luke 8:25 demonstrates this wonderfully. Jesus turns to his disciples and says “where is your faith?” In other words, “why didn’t you do what I just did?” What an incredible thing these words suggest! It is something that I feel we may sometimes overlook. It suggests, no it TELLS us, that with just one command, accompanied by faith on our Lord and Savoir, we can do anything!

This idea is repeated too in other passages. In Acts 16:18 Paul commands in the name of Jesus Christ. And again in Acts 19:13 when “some Jews” commanded in the name of Jesus. 19:13 is important I feel, for these people who commanded in the name of Jesus, and commanded successfully, are just ordinary people, so ordinary their names are not even thought worth mentioning, and yet their commands were successful because of their faith.

Understandably commanding is a difficult thing to do. Imagine if you were in the path of a tornado, and there was no escape. Would you fall on your knees and pray to the Lord for salvation and mercy, or would you stand tall in the face of the wind and the rain, sure in your faith in God and in his awesome power, and command the wind to turn aside, or cease altogether?

Is either of the two things wrong? No, I don’t believe so. Would one be more effective than the other? I have faith that it would. Praise be to God! May we have the courage and the wisdom to know when to ask and when to command, when to kneel, and when to stand tall.

Comments would be greatly appreciated, especially if you think I’m wrong lol. Better to know now at the beginning of my journey, than find I was wrong at the end!