Tuesday, 23 December 2008

My Birth Mother

I met with my birth mother last night.  Her and her son came round for the evening.

We had a really nice evening.

It is a strange thing meeting up with your birth mother!  It's difficult to get my head round how I feel about her.  I really like her and have no feelings whatsoever of bitterness or anything like that. I know that her decision to give me and Tom up for adoption was the best one.  The thing I struggle with is what do I feel about her?

Last night she was chatting about how she had spoken to my birth father recently (they split up when she fell pregnant with me and Tom) and  how they had a really good conversation and time of healing over giving me and Tom up for adoption.  When she was talking about it I felt like she was talking about some other twins.  There was times last night that I forgot she had given birth to me.

The thing is, I have an amazing mum and dad.  I had a wonderful childhood.  My mum is a star. So when I meet with my birth mother I have no desire to make a mum, because I already have a mum.  Yet I want to have a good relationship with my birth mother.  I think we do.  It was a really nice evening last night.

Its fascinating discovering about nature and nurture too.  Sarah was saying when we went to bed how I'm so like my mum (stubborn and a thinker) in some ways (nurture) but then she can see things in me that remind her of my birth mother (artistic and deep) in other ways (nature).

I know this post is a bit muddled but I'm just writing as I'm thinking.  I will go into more depth another day about my adoption and my birth family.  It is quite complicated and very interesting!  My birth family have a fascinating history.


Monday, 15 December 2008

The Voice of God

On Friday evening Mersea had their annual 'Lights Up' service where there is a short Christian service outside after the Christmas lights have been switched on outside the local community centre.  It was well attended with some of the local community coming along.  

I was asked to do a short talk at it, so below is a rough idea of what I said.  It's not exactly what I said as I never speak from notes, but I think it's more or less what  I said on the night:

Have you ever wondered what the voice of God might sound like?

Maybe you’ve never imagined what the voice of God might sound like.

Maybe you’ve imagined it to be like thunder bellowing from the heavens?

Maybe you thought it to be like a whisper that glides past your ears and then in a moment it’s gone?

I wonder though, if God spoke to you this Christmas, if you heard his voice, what might He say and how would you respond?

We remember once again this Christmas the birth of a baby.

Yet this baby is God Himself.  And so God comes into our world, into the mess and uncertainty, to bring healing and hope.  And what did the voice of God sound like on that first Christmas?  It was the cry of a baby, God Himself, in the mess and cold of a stable, and with His cry, hope was birthed.

33 years later the voice of God was the cry of Jesus calling out forgiveness from the Cross.  3 days later it was the voice of celebration and victory as Jesus rose from the dead.  And it is this Jesus, this God, that calls out healing and hope to us all this Christmas time.

In a world of mess and uncertainty God calls out to us through Jesus to follow Him and find hope in Him.

We will hold many presents this Christmas, but I wonder, will you seek to be held by the presence of God this Christmas time?

Maybe, just maybe, God is calling out to you this Christmas?  Maybe he is seeking to fill your life with hope and peace in a time where we can easily be overwhelmed with hopelessness and unrest.

Yet what might His voice sound like and what might He say?

As you hear the cry of a newborn baby or the laughter of a toddler, remember that first Christmas and maybe God is calling out to you through them to find hope in Him?

As the hustle and bustle of Christmas time continues all around you, maybe He is calling you to take a moment, stop and be still and listen to his whisper telling you that peace can be found in Him?

Maybe, just maybe, God wants to speak to you this Christmas through the incoherent ramblings of a man standing on a stage out side the MICA on a cold December night?  Maybe God is calling you to follow Jesus?

And how will you respond to His voice?

Maybe, just maybe, you will accept His invitation to journey with Him.  And as you accept the invitation to follow this Jesus, I pray that hope will be born in your heart this Christmas and will grow so that you may be able to tell others about this hope that you have.

Happy Christmas.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Who said it?

'But the sad truth of all this is that if Jesus lived today, whether you believe him to be man or god, his message of tolerance and love would STILL be ahead of his time.'

Who said it?


Sunday, 7 December 2008

Job Seeker

Sarah and I were just chatting about my job and about the future.

I will be ordained in 2010. It is at this time I will *probably* move from Mersea and begin working in another place as a evangelist. The question is where will it be and what will it look like?

*I believe God is calling us to move from Mersea in 2010. Now that may change and I may stay. We will have to wait and see!*

Sarah asked the question about whether it would be good for me to get a job outside of the church and work for the church. A bit like what I was doing until a year or so ago when I worked part time for my dad and part time for the church. She said how easy it is for Ministers to get sucked into church so much that we loose touch with people who don't go to church.

This is true for so many Christians. We spend so much time doing church stuff that we actually hardly ever spend time with people who aren't involved in our church activities. Christmas time highlights this point sharply!

Maybe this is the way forward for church planting too? I could spend time working in the community and spend time seeking to establish a faith community within that community.


Friday, 5 December 2008

Grace and grace

My daughter is so wonderful.  She makes me and Sarah laugh so much and smile all the time. She's never any trouble and is always full of joy and cheekiness.  

I'm intrigued with her journey of faith.

In our home we talk about Jesus and pray together a lot.  I understand that this is the culture Grace is growing up in and will undoubtedly influence her.  I try never to push faith down her throat but will always seek to allow her to take whatever journey she desires.  I hope throughout her life she continues to discover the peace and fullness of life that Jesus brings, but want it to be something she discovers and never feels pushed into.

The thing is, I think she has real faith.

She is always asking to pray.  In the car, shops, home or wherever.  'Daddy pray?'

Then there was today.  We were in the lounge playing with her toys.  I had just put our Christmas tree up.  She pointed at the tree and said 'Jesus!'.  I said, 'Yeah, Christmas is about Jesus.' to which she affirmed with a nod.  I then picked her up to take her to bed and she said, 'Bye bye Jesus.  Love you Jesus.'  Apart from the fact my heart nearly burst, I found it really fascinating hearing her say that.

Like I said, she has grown up hearing about Jesus, so this will obviously influence her.  But the way she prays and talks about Jesus seems to go beyond anything I have spoken to her about.

Who knows how her faith journey will develop.  I'm sure though that the Holy Spirit is deeply at work in her life.  

I know I will always love her regardless of what path she chooses in life.  I simply love her.  And more importantly, I know God loves her.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho...peless

The dreaded Christmas season is upon us!!

Now I might sound like a grumpy old man with that opening comment, but I really do dislike the first 3 weeks of December.
I love Christmas once all the church stuff is out of the way and I can spend time with my beautiful girls and chillax. Let me explain what I mean by that.

See the problem is that churches do so much stuff at Christmas that the ministers and some of the congregation get completely worn out. We go in to overdrive with carol services, christingle services, outreach events, family services etc etc. The thing is, this is on top of everything we do already. So we are SO SO BUSY! We don't need to be so busy, doing so much stuff. We don't need to do so many services.
Why do we do all this stuff? Why is it so hectic? It truly robs me of peace at a time when the Prince of Peace came among us...

I can't be the only one who feels like this...?

Why can't all the churches in an area come together and do ONE carol service together? ONE christingle service together? In my community we have 5 carol services at the different churches. FIVE! Why can't we all come together and have just the one? It could be a churches together carol service. It would take the pressure off everyone. It would speak to the community about church unity. Let's scrap our own denominations doing services and let all the denominations come together at Christmas and do one service for the community.

I just feel so tired at the moment, all the time. I feel like this every December and I hate it.

'Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest'. Please Lord!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Police, Homosexuality and Faith

I came across a story about a policeman who has been sacked for sending emails around at work for suggesting that homosexuality is sinful.

From the article it seems that his behaviour was out of order and he was rightly fired.

There is a comment thread on the article which I was reading and decided to wade into.  Have a look at the comment thread and see what you think.  Has turned out to be a really interesting debate which in my case has changed from a discussion about homosexuality to a discussion about faith.

I'm not the most articulate in debates and certainly am not the most intelligent when it comes to debates, but I have enjoyed this one, even if I can't always express properly what I want to say.

Have a look.  See what you think.  

Monday, 24 November 2008

Things to Come

So I'm reading this book and it is fantastic!

I have been feeling so frustrated lately trying to figure out what to do with all the thoughts and ideas I have been having about church. This book is helping me understand what I am thinking!

It really resonates with me and so much of what I have been thinking is in this book.

I now feel I have something viable and real to grab hold of and climb my way forward.

I believe there is another way for church to be in this nation and I think this book along with conversations I am having elsewhere, is helping me to continue the process of making these thoughts a reality.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

G.A.Y and M.O.N.E.Y

At college the other week, we were talking in a lecture about church membership.

We were discussing how different churches deal in different ways with church membership and what it actually means to be a member of the Christian Church.

Our lecturer told us about a church in London who have recently accepted into membership a homosexual couple. These guys are followers of Jesus and asked to become members. The church have invited them in as members.

Now membership in Baptist churches is usually something that happens after your baptism. You're baptised and then at a later date you ask about becoming a member of the church. The church membership will be told and they then vote to accept you or not.  In my understanding membership is seen as a covenant with God and with each other, whether it is viewed like that by the membership is another story. 


I have a lot of issues with the traditional Baptist model of membership, which I won't go onto now. The thing I want to talk about is this church in London.

I might be wrong, but I don't think hardly any churches in this nation would have accepted this couple into church membership.  The reason being that they are a homosexual couple.  Would you accept them into your church?
What if a heterosexual couple who were overtly materialistic and followers of Jesus came and asked for membership in your church?  What if they spent so much of their time spending their money on things they didn't need because they loved buying stuff.  Would you accept them into your church?

I might be wrong, but I suspect we welcome without hesitation a couple into membership who were consumed by their love for money, but we would argue and fall out over the homosexual couple who asked for membership.

Out of the two, which one did Jesus speak about most?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Rise Up and Live!

I'm thinking more and more about how radically different Church could look in this nation.

I believe the Church can exist in ways which engages with and resonates with the vast majority of people who currently are in no way a part of the Christian community.

There are things that I believe do not need to happen within Church life.  I think we need to be bold and brave and stop doing some things because they hinder the calling of the Church to be light to the world.  But some of these things are so ingrained within our church culture we have no idea how to stop doing them or even do not see why we should stop doing them.  I believe we need God to open our eyes to a lot of things and change our heart and attitude to certain traditions which are of no use to the church.

I believe there are some things which are non-negotiable however.  Things which are a part of the Gospel story.  Things that we do which define us as Church.  How we do these things and what it looks like in 21st Century Britain is another thing, but keep them we must.

I know I am being very vague, but I am still working through what all this may look like and how it will exist...not exist actually, but LIVE and be fruitful.  I think in many ways we are simply existing, it is now time for the bones to rise up and live, for the branches to bear fruit, for the living water to flow!

All Change

There is a lot of change happening in the church at the moment. Big change.

I think God is sorting the church out and is leading us into a new season.

I am seeing relationships being restored and real love being expressed.  It is great to see.

People are actually making peace with each other and I sense the church is moving forwards as a result.  

'How God and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live in unity!' Psalm 133

You know how so often we can have really superficial relationships with one another in church? And when we disagree or fall out, that gloss relationship is really exposed.  I fear that too many of us have that kind of relationship with one another in church.

Yet I am now beginning to see real relationships being built and begun.  Real love being expressed.

It is exciting!

I know the next few months are going to be tough though.  Big change is happening, and with such change some may not want to stay.  I hope and pray they do stay.

What next Lord?

Monday, 10 November 2008

I love Jesus

You know what?  I really love Jesus.

I do.  He has totally transformed my life, and I can never truly express how much I love him.

I wish I devoted my life to him more.  I wish I was as committed to him as he is to me.  What a beautiful thing grace is!  How he never gives up on me.  He will often correct me and deal with me when I'm getting it wrong, because that is him not giving up on me.

Sometimes I will get flashbacks to my past.  I will remember a night out I had where I drank copious amounts of vodka and then spoke and acted in ways which now make me shudder.  I can remember how I felt the next day.  Hungover and nervous.  Then I would have a drink and those feelings would start to disappear.

Then Jesus got hold of me.  He changed my life.

It wasn't like he was the constant high that I had always been looking for.  It is so much more than that.

I am a brand new person!  I have changed so much.  It is all his work in my life.  He is moulding me into the person he wants me to be.  He is changing me.

And its not just so I can go to heaven, its so heaven can come to earth.  

I still suffer, and hurt.  
I still struggle with various things.
But day by day God is changing me and making me more like Jesus.
I'm becoming a better person, not because I live a holier than thou life, but because Jesus is transforming me.

I'm beginning to understand what a full and abundant life is.

It has nothing to do with what I own or how much money I have.

It is to do with how much I love God and love other people.  And it is increasing day by day because of God pouring his love into my life.

I want to love God with all that I am.

You know what?  I really do love Jesus.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

New Zealand and Hope

Great to here from Tom and Abi yesterday via Skype. Fantastic program Skype! From their travel blog it looks like they're having a great time already. We had a good chat online, via our web cams. Be great to get out to New Zealand and see them. Maybe...

Tom has put on his blog Obama's speech. Below is it in written form. Great to look at and read for all you budding preachers out there. This is how you do it.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.
We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.
A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.
Don't Miss

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.
I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.
I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.
And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.
And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.
To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.
To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.
But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.
It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.
It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
This is your victory.
And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.
You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.
There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.
There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.
The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.
It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.
Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.
In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.
Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.
Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.
And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.
To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing:

Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.
She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.
And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.
At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.
When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.
She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.
A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.
And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call.

This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Friday, 7 November 2008

See you when I see you

My twin bro and his wife Abi have flown to New Zealand.

Their plane left at 10pm last night, so they should get there 1am tomorrow morning.

Gonna miss them.

Gonna miss Tom.  It's a strange thing having an identical twin.  There is a connection between us which is hard to explain.  

I think they will have an amazing time.  I'm really excited for them, spending a year or more exploring New Zealand and discovering new things about themselves.  I hope it is above and beyond all they could imagine.

Have a great time guys.  See you when I see you.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

He did it too!

Great day for the USA and the world.

I think Obama is the right choice. Time will tell of course, but as I've said before, he inspires change and hope.

I believe all authority is from God, and that it is in the will of God that Obama is President of America.

I think we have a responsibility to pray for Obama and his family.

Change is upon us.

Monday, 3 November 2008

He Did it!

He did it! Skin of his teeth, but he did it!! Deserved it too because of the way he has driven over the course of the year.

Last corner, last race!

Great race! Fantastic result.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

C'mon Lewis!!!

Final race of the season. Hamilton has a 7 point lead over Massa going into this race. If Hamilton finishes fifth or higher then he's world champion.

Really hope he does it.

Must get to an F1 race soon. Sarah is desperate to go. It's great that my wife loves F1 as much as I do!!

Right, time to get a cuppa and settle down in front of the TV. Not gonna be able to see it all because I've got Causeway tonight.

C'mon Lewis!!!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

I Believe

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended to the dead

The third day He arose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.


Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Family

Sarah and I are fascinated by a program called 'The Family'. It is on Channel 4. The Hughes family allowed camera's to be fitted in their home and film them for 100 days. They simply had to live their lives as normal while they were filmed.

What I love about it is that so often Sarah and I will be laughing a lot because something they do as a family reminds us of our own families. It is a really up close and personal look at a certain type of family life in Britain, and I think it gives real insight into how so many of us behave.

They are a pretty 'normal' family. There is nothing that makes them stand out, they are simply themselves. Getting up, going to work or school. Eating dinner. Doing homework. Arguing. Laughing. Not listening to each other. Cuddles. Silence. Just everyday life. It might not sound very interesting, but if you get a chance watch it. It makes you realise that some moments in family life are amazing and special, yet they go past us and we barely even aknowledge what has just happened.

The hug between a father and daughter when she has been crying. No words, just a hug.
The laughter when in the midst of an argument, someone says something innapropriate, but hilarious.
The joy when someone succeeds in something and the whole family celebrate.
The cuddle on the sofa, having a cup of tea and watching a film.
Eating a dinner together, chatting about your day.

The goodnight kiss.

Add some more to the list that you can think of...

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Now for something completely...ridiculous.

Yesterday I posted a video by Rob Bell.
Today I post a video with Mark Driscoll in.
There is quite a difference.

I think Rob Bell is generous in his theology and take on life and humanity.
I think Mark Driscoll abuses scripture and is narrow in his theology and take on life and humanity.
If I had to choose a Mars Hill church to attend (They are both Pastors of churches called Mars Hill), I know which one I would go to.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Monday, 27 October 2008

Peace Be With You

We had an amazing time at church yesterday morning.

A very real sense of God meeting with us and bringing transformation into our lives. It was special to be a part of.

I tried something different at Communion.

Firstly I had one cup and one loaf on the table and people were invited to come forward to receive the bread and wine. In Baptist churches this is very different to how things are normally done, but it was received really positively.

Before we received Communion though I asked everyone to go round making peace with each other. All of this is common practice within my Anglican friends traditions, but it is not something that happens on a regular basis within my own experience of Baptist churches. I'm sure my Anglican friends may say that this act of walking round hugging, shaking hands and making peace can become a ritual where people are not really engaging, but nevertheless, there is an act of peace being offered.

What we were blessed with yesterday was that having never done this before (to my knowledge) as a church it was new, scary but liberating ground. People got out of their seats and went round the whole church making peace with each other. Hugging, shaking hands, laughing and sharing. The atmosphere was beautiful. I could sense God beginning to heal broken relationships and bring peace to each other.

The realty of church life is that we so often meet together yet real love can be missing. Real peace between each other can be absent. The reality of community is lost. We go through the motions, doing what we always do and forget to be real with each other.

Yesterday I saw a realness and rawness in the interaction between the people at church. I saw something very special and very beautiful. I saw community. I was privileged to be a part of it.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Financial Hurricane

Something I have written for the local website. Should go on there sometime next week.

I watched something the other day about a 17 year old who was sent to live in Jamaica for 3 weeks to live with a family there. The reason he was sent there was because he had real behavioural problems and his mum was looking for some help in dealing with his temper. His dad had left his mum a year earlier and this event had caused him to spiral out of control. The family he went to live with were a strict Jamaican family who believed in discipline and bringing children up to respect themselves and their parents. This guy didn’t settle in his new surroundings very easily. Everyone found it difficult until something happened that changed everything.

He was taken to see a man called Micah. Micah was 19 years old and lived in a corrugated iron shack. The roof had holes in it and their possessions were minimal. He had six brothers and sisters, all younger than him. 1 year earlier a hurricane swept through the island of Jamaica destroying much of the island, including Micah’s home. Not only that but both Micah’s parents were killed in the hurricane. So he found himself caring for his 6 brothers and sisters. He was at college but gave it up to go to work so he could provide for his family. What was also incredible was that Micah constantly had a massive smile on his face. He said that he doesn’t know why his parents were killed and why he found himself in the situation he was in, but he knew that God would get him though it all and that God would always be there for him. For Micah there is more to life than what we own or have, for Micah the most important things in life are family, faith and love. This encounter with Micah transformed this 17-year-old lad and made him realise all that he has and how thankful he is for it.

The current financial crisis is like a hurricane sweeping through the world and our nation. We are finding businesses failing, jobs being lost and homes under threat. The hurricane seems to building momentum and it is hard to predict what course it will take and the strength of its destruction. What we do know is that it is affecting us and it’s hard for so many of us. At times like this it is important that we stick together as a community and look to be a means of love and support to each other. If we can help each other we need to. Maybe we can cook for each other, car share, laugh together and cry together. It’s important that we know we have each other to cling on to as the winds of financial crisis blow through our communities. I believe that this time will also help us see the bigger picture about what really matters in life.

Jesus once said do not worry about the things we own, but rather seek first God’s way of life. Seek first love, truth and justice. Jesus said if we seek God’s way of life then we will know wholeness and peace and understand what’s really important. Maybe at this time we need to look at what is really important. Family and friends. Love. Faith.

Please don’t hear me wrong, I’m not making light of the pain and hurt people feel at this time due to the current financial climate, but what I’m saying is that life is more than the clothes we wear and the things we own. Jesus said that he came to bring life in all its fullness. He wasn’t talking about a full bank account or home full of things, but a life bursting with peace and love. Maybe we need to take our eyes off the God of money who is crumbling in the winds and won’t be around forever, and put our eyes on the God of heaven and earth who can never be moved.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Sex, Money, Drink

The Cost of Deceit

It seems even his parents and wife did not know.

Seems to be a depth of stuff here involving all sorts of problems with addiction. The addiction of fame, pornography, recognition....

John 21

This is the final chapter of John's Gospel. If you've read it through, I hope you enjoyed it.

John 21

After this, Jesus appeared again to the disciples, this time at the Tiberias Sea (the Sea of Galilee). This is how he did it: Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed "Twin"), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the brothers Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter announced, "I'm going fishing."
The rest of them replied, "We're going with you." They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn't recognize him.

Jesus spoke to them: "Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?"

They answered, "No."

He said, "Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens."

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren't strong enough to pull it in.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Master!"

When Simon Peter realized that it was the Master, he threw on some clothes, for he was stripped for work, and dove into the sea. The other disciples came in by boat for they weren't far from land, a hundred yards or so, pulling along the net full of fish. When they got out of the boat, they saw a fire laid, with fish and bread cooking on it.

Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you've just caught." Simon Peter joined them and pulled the net to shore—153 big fish! And even with all those fish, the net didn't rip.

Jesus said, "Breakfast is ready." Not one of the disciples dared ask, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Master.

Jesus then took the bread and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus had shown himself alive to the disciples since being raised from the dead.

After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"
"Yes, Master, you know I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

He then asked a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

"Yes, Master, you know I love you."

Jesus said, "Shepherd my sheep."

Then he said it a third time: "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, "Do you love me?" so he answered, "Master, you know everything there is to know. You've got to know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. I'm telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you'll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don't want to go." He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, "Follow me."

Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him, he asked Jesus, "Master, what's going to happen to him?"

Jesus said, "If I want him to live until I come again, what's that to you? You—follow me." That is how the rumor got out among the brothers that this disciple wouldn't die. But that is not what Jesus said. He simply said, "If I want him to live until I come again, what's that to you?"

This is the same disciple who was eyewitness to all these things and wrote them down. And we all know that his eyewitness account is reliable and accurate.

There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can't imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

I'm like a bird

Being back at college has slowed my blogging up a little! Some of it is time, some of it that more questions are raised in my mind through being here and I need to process them further.

One that continues to swirl around in my mind is my calling as a evangelist.

I will be Ordained in June (ish) 2010 (On that note Sam, what's your view of Baptist Ordination? As a Anglo-Catholic I'm sure you wouldn't see it as valid, but what about since your involvement with us evangelicals?) as a accredited Evangelist. In January I will begin the process of seeking God, with the help of the college, to what God is calling me into next.

My time at college has sharpened that calling to be a evangelist. I have never felt it so strongly. The irony of that is that I have led fewer people to Jesus this year than ever before (I know that it is God who brings people to himself, but I believe God uses mere mortals like us to show them the Way).

The problem is that I'm not sure if churches are looking for evangelists. I'm not sure they even know what to do with evangelists. So I'm entering a period of time where I may have to break new ground.

I'm looking forward to the next 18 months discovering God's next step for me and my family. I can't wait! I feel like a bird who's in a cage waiting to be released into the wide open space. So my wings are flapping widely at the moment, and I know soon enough the door will open!

John 19 and 20

John 19

So Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped. The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, and approached him with, "Hail, King of the Jews!" Then they greeted him with slaps in the face.
Pilate went back out again and said to them, "I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime." Just then Jesus came out wearing the thorn crown and purple robe.
Pilate announced, "Here he is: the Man."
When the high priests and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, "Crucify! Crucify!"
Pilate told them, "You take him. You crucify him. I find nothing wrong with him."
The Jews answered, "We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son of God."
When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared. He went back into the palace and said to Jesus, "Where did you come from?"
Jesus gave no answer.
Pilate said, "You won't talk? Don't you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to—crucify you?"
Jesus said, "You haven't a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven. That's why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault."
At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down: "If you pardon this man, you're no friend of Caesar's. Anyone setting himself up as 'king' defies Caesar."
When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside. He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). It was the preparation day for Passover. The hour was noon. Pilate said to the Jews, "Here is your king."
They shouted back, "Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!"
Pilate said, "I am to crucify your king?"
The high priests answered, "We have no king except Caesar."
Pilate caved in to their demand. He turned him over to be crucified.
They took Jesus away. Carrying his cross, Jesus went out to the place called Skull Hill (the name in Hebrew is Golgotha), where they crucified him, and with him two others, one on each side, Jesus in the middle. Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read: jesus the nazarene the king of the jews.
Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Jewish high priests objected. "Don't write," they said to Pilate, "'The King of the Jews.' Make it, 'This man said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"
Pilate said, "What I've written, I've written."
When they crucified him, the Roman soldiers took his clothes and divided them up four ways, to each soldier a fourth. But his robe was seamless, a single piece of weaving, so they said to each other, "Let's not tear it up. Let's throw dice to see who gets it." This confirmed the Scripture that said, "They divided up my clothes among them and threw dice for my coat." (The soldiers validated the Scriptures!)
While the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.
Jesus, seeing that everything had been completed so that the Scripture record might also be complete, then said, "I'm thirsty."
A jug of sour wine was standing by. Someone put a sponge soaked with the wine on a javelin and lifted it to his mouth. After he took the wine, Jesus said, "It's done . . . complete." Bowing his head, he offered up his spirit.
Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn't stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn't break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.
The eyewitness to these things has presented an accurate report. He saw it himself and is telling the truth so that you, also, will believe.
These things that happened confirmed the Scripture, "Not a bone in his body was broken," and the other Scripture that reads, "They will stare at the one they pierced."
After all this, Joseph of Arimathea (he was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, because he was intimidated by the Jews) petitioned Pilate to take the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission. So Joseph came and took the body.
Nicodemus, who had first come to Jesus at night, came now in broad daylight carrying a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. They took Jesus' body and, following the Jewish burial custom, wrapped it in linen with the spices. There was a garden near the place he was crucified, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been placed. So, because it was Sabbath preparation for the Jews and the tomb was convenient, they placed Jesus in it.

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved away from the entrance. She ran at once to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, breathlessly panting, "They took the Master from the tomb. We don't know where they've put him."
Peter and the other disciple left immediately for the tomb. They ran, neck and neck. The other disciple got to the tomb first, outrunning Peter. Stooping to look in, he saw the pieces of linen cloth lying there, but he didn't go in. Simon Peter arrived after him, entered the tomb, observed the linen cloths lying there, and the kerchief used to cover his head not lying with the linen cloths but separate, neatly folded by itself. Then the other disciple, the one who had gotten there first, went into the tomb, took one look at the evidence, and believed. No one yet knew from the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. The disciples then went back home.
But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there, dressed in white, one at the head, the other at the foot of where Jesus' body had been laid. They said to her, "Woman, why do you weep?"
"They took my Master," she said, "and I don't know where they put him." After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing there. But she didn't recognize him.
Jesus spoke to her, "Woman, why do you weep? Who are you looking for?"
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said, "Mister, if you took him, tell me where you put him so I can care for him."
Jesus said, "Mary."
Turning to face him, she said in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" meaning "Teacher!"
Jesus said, "Don't cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, 'I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.'"
Mary Magdalene went, telling the news to the disciples: "I saw the Master!" And she told them everything he said to her.
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house. Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you." Then he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: "Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you."
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. "Receive the Holy Spirit," he said. "If you forgive someone's sins, they're gone for good. If you don't forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?"
But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, "We saw the Master."
But he said, "Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won't believe it."
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, "Peace to you."
Then he focused his attention on Thomas. "Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don't be unbelieving. Believe."
Thomas said, "My Master! My God!"
Jesus said, "So, you believe because you've seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing."
Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and in the act of believing, have real and eternal life in the way he personally revealed it.

Monday, 20 October 2008

John 18

John 18

Jesus, having prayed this prayer, left with his disciples and crossed over the brook Kidron at a place where there was a garden. He and his disciples entered it.

Judas, his betrayer, knew the place because Jesus and his disciples went there often. So Judas led the way to the garden, and the Roman soldiers and police sent by the high priests and Pharisees followed. They arrived there with lanterns and torches and swords. Jesus, knowing by now everything that was coming down on him, went out and met them. He said, "Who are you after?"

They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."

He said, "That's me." The soldiers recoiled, totally taken aback. Judas, his betrayer, stood out like a sore thumb.

Jesus asked again, "Who are you after?"

They answered, "Jesus the Nazarene."

"I told you," said Jesus, "that's me. I'm the one. So if it's me you're after, let these others go." (This validated the words in his prayer, "I didn't lose one of those you gave.")

Just then Simon Peter, who was carrying a sword, pulled it from its sheath and struck the Chief Priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. Malchus was the servant's name.

Jesus ordered Peter, "Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I'm not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?"

Then the Roman soldiers under their commander, joined by the Jewish police, seized Jesus and tied him up. They took him first to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. That other disciple was known to the Chief Priest, and so he went in with Jesus to the Chief Priest's courtyard. Peter had to stay outside. Then the other disciple went out, spoke to the doorkeeper, and got Peter in.

The young woman who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, "Aren't you one of this man's disciples?"

He said, "No, I'm not."

The servants and police had made a fire because of the cold and were huddled there warming themselves. Peter stood with them, trying to get warm.

Annas interrogated Jesus regarding his disciples and his teaching. Jesus answered, "I've spoken openly in public. I've taught regularly in meeting places and the Temple, where the Jews all come together. Everything has been out in the open. I've said nothing in secret. So why are you treating me like a conspirator? Question those who have been listening to me. They know well what I have said. My teachings have all been aboveboard."

When he said this, one of the policemen standing there slapped Jesus across the face, saying, "How dare you speak to the Chief Priest like that!"

Jesus replied, "If I've said something wrong, prove it. But if I've spoken the plain truth, why this slapping around?"

Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to the Chief Priest Caiaphas.

Meanwhile, Simon Peter was back at the fire, still trying to get warm. The others there said to him, "Aren't you one of his disciples?"

He denied it, "Not me."

One of the Chief Priest's servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"

Again, Peter denied it. Just then a rooster crowed.

They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's palace. It was early morning. They themselves didn't enter the palace because they didn't want to be disqualified from eating the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and spoke. "What charge do you bring against this man?"
They said, "If he hadn't been doing something evil, do you think we'd be here bothering you?"

Pilate said, "You take him. Judge him by your law."

The Jews said, "We're not allowed to kill anyone." (This would confirm Jesus' word indicating the way he would die.)

Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus. He said, "Are you the 'King of the Jews'?"

Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?"

Pilate said, "Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?"

"My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king."

Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"

Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice."

Pilate said, "What is truth?"

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, "I find nothing wrong in this man. It's your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover. Do you want me to pardon the 'King of the Jews'?"

They shouted back, "Not this one, but Barabbas!" Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.

John 15-17

John 15

"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.

"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me.

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.

"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father.

"You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

"But remember the root command: Love one another.

"If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world's terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God's terms and no longer on the world's terms, the world is going to hate you.

"When that happens, remember this: Servants don't get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them.

"They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don't know the One who sent me. If I hadn't come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn't be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it's all the same. If I hadn't done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn't be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, 'They hated me for no good reason.'

"When the Friend I plan to send you from the Father comes—the Spirit of Truth issuing from the Father—he will confirm everything about me. You, too, from your side must give your confirming evidence, since you are in this with me from the start."

John 16

"I've told you these things to prepare you for rough times ahead. They are going to throw you out of the meeting places. There will even come a time when anyone who kills you will think he's doing God a favor. They will do these things because they never really understood the Father. I've told you these things so that when the time comes and they start in on you, you'll be well-warned and ready for them.

"I didn't tell you this earlier because I was with you every day. But now I am on my way to the One who sent me. Not one of you has asked, 'Where are you going?' Instead, the longer I've talked, the sadder you've become. So let me say it again, this truth: It's better for you that I leave. If I don't leave, the Friend won't come. But if I go, I'll send him to you.
"When he comes, he'll expose the error of the godless world's view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He'll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.

"I still have many things to tell you, but you can't handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I've said, 'He takes from me and delivers to you.'

"In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me."

That stirred up a hornet's nest of questions among the disciples: "What's he talking about: 'In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me'? And, 'Because I'm on my way to the Father'? What is this 'day or so'? We don't know what he's talking about."
Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant, so he said, "Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said, 'In a day or so you're not going to see me, but then in another day or so you will see me'? Then fix this firmly in your minds: You're going to be in deep mourning while the godless world throws a party. You'll be sad, very sad, but your sadness will develop into gladness.

"When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there's no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you'll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You'll no longer be so full of questions.

"This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!

"I've used figures of speech in telling you these things. Soon I'll drop the figures and tell you about the Father in plain language. Then you can make your requests directly to him in relation to this life I've revealed to you. I won't continue making requests of the Father on your behalf. I won't need to. Because you've gone out on a limb, committed yourselves to love and trust in me, believing I came directly from the Father, the Father loves you directly. First, I left the Father and arrived in the world; now I leave the world and travel to the Father."

His disciples said, "Finally! You're giving it to us straight, in plain talk—no more figures of speech. Now we know that you know everything—it all comes together in you. You won't have to put up with our questions anymore. We're convinced you came from God."

Jesus answered them, "Do you finally believe? In fact, you're about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I'm not abandoned. The Father is with me. I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

John 17

Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it's time.
Display the bright splendor of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,
The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor,
The very splendor I had in your presence
Before there was a world.

I spelled out your character in detail
To the men and women you gave me.
They were yours in the first place;
Then you gave them to me,
And they have now done what you said.
They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt,
That everything you gave me is firsthand from you,
For the message you gave me, I gave them;
And they took it, and were convinced
That I came from you.
They believed that you sent me.
I pray for them.
I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world
But for those you gave me,
For they are yours by right.
Everything mine is yours, and yours mine,
And my life is on display in them.
For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world;
They'll continue in the world
While I return to you.
Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life
That you conferred as a gift through me,
So they can be one heart and mind
As we are one heart and mind.
As long as I was with them, I guarded them
In the pursuit of the life you gave through me;
I even posted a night watch.
And not one of them got away,
Except for the rebel bent on destruction
(the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

Now I'm returning to you.
I'm saying these things in the world's hearing
So my people can experience
My joy completed in them.
I gave them your word;
The godless world hated them because of it,
Because they didn't join the world's ways,
Just as I didn't join the world's ways.
I'm not asking that you take them out of the world
But that you guard them from the Evil One.
They are no more defined by the world
Than I am defined by the world.
Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth;
Your word is consecrating truth.
In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world,
I give them a mission in the world.
I'm consecrating myself for their sakes
So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

20-23I'm praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you've sent me and loved them
In the same way you've loved me.

24-26Father, I want those you gave me
To be with me, right where I am,
So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me,
Having loved me
Long before there ever was a world.
Righteous Father, the world has never known you,
But I have known you, and these disciples know
That you sent me on this mission.
I have made your very being known to them—
Who you are and what you do—
And continue to make it known,
So that your love for me
Might be in them
Exactly as I am in them.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

John 14

John 14

"Don't let this throw you. You trust God, don't you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father's home. If that weren't so, would I have told you that I'm on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I'm on my way to get your room ready, I'll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I'm taking."
Thomas said, "Master, we have no idea where you're going. How do you expect us to know the road?"

Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You've even seen him!"

Philip said, "Master, show us the Father; then we'll be content."

"You've been with me all this time, Philip, and you still don't understand? To see me is to see the Father. So how can you ask, 'Where is the Father?' Don't you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you aren't mere words. I don't just make them up on my own. The Father who resides in me crafts each word into a divine act.

"Believe me: I am in my Father and my Father is in me. If you can't believe that, believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I'm doing but even greater things, because I, on my way to the Father, am giving you the same work to do that I've been doing. You can count on it. From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do.

"If you love me, show it by doing what I've told you. I will talk to the Father, and he'll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth. The godless world can't take him in because it doesn't have eyes to see him, doesn't know what to look for. But you know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you!
"I will not leave you orphaned. I'm coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you're going to see me because I am alive and you're about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I'm in my Father, and you're in me, and I'm in you.

"The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that's who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him."

Judas (not Iscariot) said, "Master, why is it that you are about to make yourself plain to us but not to the world?"

"Because a loveless world," said Jesus, "is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we'll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn't mine. It's the message of the Father who sent me.

"I'm telling you these things while I'm still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught.

"You've heard me tell you, 'I'm going away, and I'm coming back.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I'm on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.

"I've told you this ahead of time, before it happens, so that when it does happen, the confirmation will deepen your belief in me. I'll not be talking with you much more like this because the chief of this godless world is about to attack. But don't worry—he has nothing on me, no claim on me. But so the world might know how thoroughly I love the Father, I am carrying out my Father's instructions right down to the last detail.

"Get up. Let's go. It's time to leave here."

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Seven - Hell on Earth

Is hell a place of utter hopelessness?
Is hell a place where hope is offered but rejected?
Is hell a place of complete pain?
I believe hell exists. I believe we glimpse it hear and now sometimes.
Is it a place absent of God? I don't see how it can be, for surely God is present everywhere. 'Where can I go from your presence O Lord?'
Something only exists because God 'says' it exists. All things are held together in Christ. SO where does that leave us with our theology of hell?
Seven has got me thinking about this because of its image of complete hopelessness. Hell on earth.
Initial thoughts which I will dig deeper into.

John 13

John 13

Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal.

Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, "Master, you wash my feet?"

Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."

Peter persisted, "You're not going to wash my feet—ever!"
Jesus said, "If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing."

"Master!" said Peter. "Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!"

Jesus said, "If you've had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you're clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you're clean. But not every one of you." (He knew who was betraying him. That's why he said, "Not every one of you.") After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table.

Then he said, "Do you understand what I have done to you? You address me as 'Teacher' and 'Master,' and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other's feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

"I'm not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I've selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture:
The one who ate bread at my table
Turned on his heel against me."I'm telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me."

After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. "One of you is going to betray me."

The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, "Master, who?"

Jesus said, "The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I've dipped it." Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
"What you must do," said Jesus, "do. Do it and get it over with."

No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.

Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

When he had left, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him. The moment God is seen in him, God's glory will be on display. In glorifying him, he himself is glorified—glory all around!

"Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I'm telling you: 'Where I go, you are not able to come.'

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."

Simon Peter asked, "Master, just where are you going?"
Jesus answered, "You can't now follow me where I'm going. You will follow later."

Master," said Peter, "why can't I follow now? I'll lay down my life for you!"

"Really? You'll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times."

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


I watched the film 'Seven' with my twin bro a few weeks back. Haven't seen it for such a long time.

I remember loving the film so was keen to see it again.

I haven't got time today to go into all my thoughts and musings since watching it but a few things have been raised in my mind as a result of watching the film. When I've got time I will go into detail about them (in the next couple of days hopefully).

Questions and thoughts this film has raised are:

What is hope?

What is the the Christian Gospel?

What is the essence of life?

The prospect of hell

Will return to these questions and thoughts soon.

John 12

John 12

Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus' feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.

Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, "Why wasn't this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces." He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.

Jesus said, "Let her alone. She's anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don't always have me."

Word got out among the Jews that he was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead. So the high priests plotted to kill Lazarus because so many of the Jews were going over and believing in Jesus on account of him.

The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered:

Blessed is he who comes in God's name!
Yes! The King of Israel!

Jesus got a young donkey and rode it, just as the Scripture has it:

No fear, Daughter Zion:
See how your king comes,
riding a donkey's colt.

The disciples didn't notice the fulfillment of many Scriptures at the time, but after Jesus was glorified, they remembered that what was written about him matched what was done to him.

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, was there giving eyewitness accounts. It was because they had spread the word of this latest God-sign that the crowd swelled to a welcoming parade. The Pharisees took one look and threw up their hands: "It's out of control. The world's in a stampede after him."

There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the Feast. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: "Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?"

Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip together told Jesus. Jesus answered, "Time's up. The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.

"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.

"If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.

"Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say? 'Father, get me out of this'? No, this is why I came in the first place. I'll say, 'Father, put your glory on display.'"

A voice came out of the sky: "I have glorified it, and I'll glorify it again."
The listening crowd said, "Thunder!"
Others said, "An angel spoke to him!"

Jesus said, "The voice didn't come for me but for you. At this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me." He put it this way to show how he was going to be put to death.

Voices from the crowd answered, "We heard from God's Law that the Messiah lasts forever. How can it be necessary, as you put it, that the Son of Man 'be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?"

Jesus said, "For a brief time still, the light is among you. Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn't destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don't know where you're going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You'll be children of light."

Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs he had given them and they still didn't get it, still wouldn't trust him. This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right:

God, who believed what we preached?
Who recognized God's arm, outstretched and ready to act?First they wouldn't believe, then they couldn't—again, just as Isaiah said:

Their eyes are blinded, their hearts are hardened, So that they wouldn't see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts, And turn to me, God, so I could heal them.

Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God's cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah.

On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn't come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God's glory.

Jesus summed it all up when he cried out, "Whoever believes in me, believes not just in me but in the One who sent me. Whoever looks at me is looking, in fact, at the One who sent me. I am Light that has come into the world so that all who believe in me won't have to stay any longer in the dark.

If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn't take it seriously, I don't reject him. I didn't come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I'm saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I'm not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That's all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you."