So this is a blog!

Hello to anyone reading this! This is my blog which I'm writing to look at things that take my fancy with a Christian twist, I am nowhere near the last authority on any of this, that's the Bible, God's word, but I thought I'd share my thoughts so that you might have something to think about or share with friends.

God Bless

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 14: New scenery

I've only been back in Geneva for two weeks and I'm already off back to York for some wonderful studying... if it happens. Anyway I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about our every changing scenery of a life and how Jesus, and God, remain the same throughout it.
We go on a lot about how God was, is and will be in Church either in sermons or worship and I don't know about you but it doesn't really drive home sometimes what we are on about. As humans we have a fleeting life in comparison with the Universe, even the Earth. Yet we moan about the length of the day, sit in awe as we discuss how quickly a year has gone by and wonder if that boring hour long lecture will ever end. We don't really have a firm grasp on what time is. Looking at it one way, if the Earth was twenty years old man has not been around for more than an eye blink really. We are small and tiny compared to everything but our God has been there for ever, He was there when the Earth was nothing more than inkling in the corner of His mind.
Anyhow though that's not why I'm on about here, we as humans live in an ever changing world and it is easy to get swept up in it all if we don't pay attention, or have a rock to stand on. To use a verse that is otherwise used in normality:
48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. -Luke 6:48
By putting our trust in Jesus we are building our lives on that rock. We are making sure that when the flood of the world comes sweeping in we will stand firm and hold true to who we are. Especially when we live in a world where finding yourself and being confident in your own image is important, being able to stand and say "I am found in Christ" is something that can set us apart, or rather will set us apart. We can't be constant through life because we are always growing, changing but what we can be is resolute in our greatest relationship with the unchanging Lord, yes unchanging. I think that is something we need to recognize daily really, I'm not expecting it because it is difficult to do something daily but we can only try and remember God's grandeur everyday.

God Bless

Day 13: 1 John 3:16

This how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters - 1 John 3:16
I was about to misquote that verse by saying "This is how we know what true love is..." and I don't know, I would like to think my mistake suits it better. We all know love, we have had mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends and enemies, we've learnt about the human interaction that is love. I'm going to tell you something amazing here though, you can know perfect love, true love. God created love and knows it in it's purest sense since He saw it's first movement and use. That's why I think that verse is slightly off, well at least in the NIV I haven't checked other versions, because it is through Jesus's sacrifice that we can know what pure, true love is.
So what is my natter about this week? Well it's simply this. We spend a good amount of time during our lives on earth searching for, or sharing, love. Yet whilst most of us do this we miss out on by not seeing the love that is freely given to us by God. We hold love on a high pedestal, in fact some people see a loving relationship on earth as success and the source of happiness, but I would challenge that viewpoint. Success does not come from being made happy by things on Earths, because ultimately most of it can be sourced back to you wanting to ameliorate yourself whether in emotions or in material gain or something not included in those categories. True love found in God drives us to do things that do not help us, albeit to the non-christian world they can be boiled down to something selfish, what drives us is not ameliorating ourselves but giving glory to God through them.
I realize that a lot of people reading this will have objections due to the fact I'm not delving deeply into this but I really just want to show the greatness, and difference, of God's love to human love. This really does raise the point of always putting God first, even in relationships. A relationship built around a mutual love of God and with God in it's center will always be more fortified than any other type of relationship. Now I'm not saying other relationships won't work and that without God you are doomed to failure in your relationships, what I'm saying is that with God as the center there is likely to be a greater sense of unity and I do think it will work better. I'm no expert though since I haven't had a girlfriend yet but I sure hope I can remember to put her second and God first if I ever do get one.
I could go on to all different kinds of love but I think whilst I narrow it to girlfriend/boyfriend at the end of the last paragraph, I do think it can apply to most, if not all, relationships. So I challenge us, as Christians, to always put God first at all times.

God Bless

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 12: Nature's joy

Have you ever just stopped and looked at nature? Do you even take the time to slow down and look around as you walk from place to place? If your answer is no, then I invite you to. It is a great experience to have each day, I speak from experience as I walk quite slowly.
But anyway what I really want to talk about is the amazing-ness that is the creation of all this around us. I know I can walk in to town or campus of a day and end up stopping somewhere, noticing something I have not before. I certainly do think nature has given us a most inspirational playground to hang out in and check out. Now personally, I think God sorted all this out. I don't mean "SHA-BAM" and it's there sort of thing, but through the laws of nature and as science has proven it to come to being, but that is merely the way God brought it all into being. It is always an amazing thing that drives me to constantly thank God for what He has done, in the grander scale of things. In fact at late night worship I prefer to stand just outside of where we usually hold it because I can see so much more of God's work in motion, I know He is everywhere but 4 white walls don't quite cut it compared to the campus green. I also stand outside because I can't stand the heat inside but that's another matter.
I don't think I'm going to write anything long about conserving the planet  and stopping pollution but what I do want to ask you to do is to spend more time looking around and seeing this world in motion, it's inspiring and beautiful. I know people who say if God exists let Him give me a definitive sign He's out there, well I can't but imagine what a better sign  is but the beauty of nature and the world outside.

God Bless

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 11: a well rounded heart

Our salvation is something we are happy with, I agree it's amazing and something I take have a great appreciation and comfort in but why are we happy with it? We concentrate on the side that says God loves us indefinitely and each person greatly, but what about the flip side. The other side of the coin says this: We were/are so broken, so fallen from what God had planned for us that we need someone Him to come and die for us so that we can be reconciled with Him. There was no way back for us so God had to kill Himself as Jesus so that we could be with Him. Now that is amazing but it shouldn't make us feel great about ourselves, which leads me to wonder why we hold ourselves in high regard and hope we can shed light on others people's lives. I'm guilty of this, I constantly think I know more than people and weigh in on conversations that don't need me and I'm content with who I am, I always will be because I have for the longest time had an attitude off "go with the flow". I suppose in many ways I'm flawed from a mental and physical point of view (slightly overweight and ginger) but what I can only be amazed at is the fact that because of Jesus my soul whilst it is still flawed, looks perfect to God. A lot of the time we sit back in our comfort that Jesus has sorted everything out, that's wrong.
Rogue new paragraph. We cannot sit back in comfort since we are saved and I think we lie to ourselves when we say we can't do anything. I completely understand, and agree, that we cannot save ourselves but that does not mean we cannot become better people and  that we cannot strive to be better. We like to say people a heart for something like serving, social action or teaching, but a heart has never been capable of feeling on thing or ever been fixed on one thing. We care too much for people exercising their passion for one thing sometimes and forget to let people grow into well rounded Christians. I'll put my hand up and say there are people who teach who I think shouldn't but just because they aren't that great doesn't mean that they can't keep trying.
Encouragement is key here. We praise people who do well and are good at things but I think we are slowly losing the memory of helping people out who aren't good at something. I for some reason unbeknownst to me constantly get told I can bring a smile to people's faces, I don't know why to save my life. I'm not trying to  boast but I think if we can nurture that in people then perhaps we can start growing well rounded people again. If we can bring about a heart for encouragement of the strugglers into our hearts then perhaps we'll see the world shine more.
I suppose my challenge for myself and others today is to stop concentrating on what people are good at all the time but to look at what someone doesn't do well and help them grow there. The allure to start getting annoyed with people after looking at their bad points all the time is there but that is why we shouldn't lose sight of what people do well.

God Bless.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 10: Rediscovery

I'm not writing about rediscovery because I've rediscovered God today but rather so that if I do sit down one day and forget what God has done I can look back and go "Yeah, that's my God!" We have in front of us one of the most amazing people that we will ever meet, Jesus. He is there whenever we need Him and loves us all personally. Yet if we are honest with ourselves we don't do nearly enough because of that love. I understand we don't actually have to do anything anymore to gain acceptance into Heaven but why should we be stopping after receiving that gift? Surely we are driven by a desire to fulfill that love and do things for Him.
I have a friend who is meant to enthuse in prayer at my university and there is something he says every now and again that really does make this point. My university holds the second largest Christian union in England but we "consider it a victory when 5 people turn up to pray", now I'm not sure about you but that hits me where it hurts. Sure we can't turn up to everything, I don't really make it up in time for 8 am prayer but shouldn't we be taking every opportunity to pray? Here's the answer.
We aren't just called to pray to God, we aren't told by Paul to do it because it something nice, something which as a Christian we do. We are instinctively called to pray because it is part of our spiritual nature to want to access and talk to the perfect man, the person who saved us by conquering death and loved us so much that He did despite the suffering it would cause Him. We have to rediscover a passion for Jesus in our every second lives. All to often I have thought got my one Christian thing for today that's all good, got my bible reading too, I'm sorted. That's wrong of me, my day to day life, and yours, should be seen not as how much you did every day for Jesus, how much was dedicated to Him but rather how much did you do every second, how many seconds were dedicated to Him. If it's less than all we've fallen short. Now here's the cool part, we will always fall short. What that's not cool? Oh I forgot to add, " and it doesn't matter" but even so we should be aiming to give as much as we can to Him, for Him, with Him because that is how we respond to His love given freely to us.
Okay I may end up sticking to prayer too much here but isn't it amazing what He has done for us. I know in the past year and a half I've seen Him get me through weeks without me spending anything, heal friendships, bring people I never would have thought of asking to events, control the weather (you may be skeptical but I'm rooting for God on them) and change the way I think. That is but a small, minute portion of what He can do, so really why aren't I giving Him more of my time? I suppose because I'm lazy, it's a part of me I haven't changed yet but I'd like to think I'm slowly getting better at it.

Lord, thank you for all you've done for me, don't let me ever forget that. I pray for my prayer life and prayer events on campus, I pray that you'll increase them both so that your will and presence can be felt in this world. I mean "What if we prayed?" would we then not be filled with the strength of the Creator and will we not vanquish our fears and the obstacles Satan may put in front of us. Help me to pray more Lord, help this world to pray more to You for the World, for this nation, for our city, for our campus Lord. We can but ask that your will is carried out and people start humbling themselves looking for your strength to fill them n everything they do. Thank you again for all you have done so far in my life, let me not forgot it and You in everything I strive to do. Amen
 So yeah I suppose what turned out to talk about not forgetting what He has done for us changed into rediscovery your passion for God, especially in your prayer life. What can I say but that shouldn't we all be seeking to come into the presence of the Creator, the Almighty, the True Living God more than we already anyway otherwise what a chance we are letting slip away!

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 9: Being prepared

I've been talking about having the Lord in your life and giving your life to Him so that you may not succumb to the terrors this world will throw at us. I suppose I should tentatively sum up what has been an interesting week of trying to find a lesson each day. So here goes:
God is awesome, quite simple really, but He goes beyond what we imagine Him capable of. I suppose my lesson today on being prepared is quite simple from a Christian context; trust in God and He shall guide you and equip you better than you could. This however sounds easy but in all honest when I say trust in God, I mean give Him your all and don't hold even an atom back. Now that is a tall order.
I suppose when I say be prepared, it first comes to mind being prepared to face the world but I realize now that what I should be talking about is being prepared to give it all up for God, and to God.
We tend to gloss over this subject in many respects and so don't really give it the thought it should get. I'm actually trying to figure out how I should tackle this subject but the only thing I can think of is that God has great plans for us and He really does want what is best for us so we should cast out that fear of helplessness and not being in control and truly give it all up to Him. I'm sorry that this isn't really a guide on how to do it, nor are there any pointers but I'll tell you one thing. Pray. Pray with your heart behind it, don't hold back and say what you mean because when you do I am certain you are tuning into God's will and you'll see it come out in what you say.
Lord, I couldn't be more thankful for what you have done for me. You are slowly changing me into a better person and you are creating something new which I know nothing about. All I can ask for is this, that your will be done in my life. I hope that when the time comes I shall not be afraid of what you test me with or how you transform me but rather I can stand strong  in the knowledge of who you are and grow because of it. There is a world out there packed with people who don't know you, and I mean don't know you in their hearts, and when you are ready to send me out into the world daily to profess your name to them, send me because Here I Am Lord, here I am. 
Take this life, make it new and don't let me forgot what you have done for me! Amen.

God Bless

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 8: Listening

We've all got a voice, some of use ours more than others apparently adults use 16,000 words per day. We spend a lot of time talking but how much time do we spend listening to the world. I can easily say I prefer to listen most of the day, generally to people loudly talking about their problems in my college's common room but also I'm happy to spend time listening to people's problems face to face despite my social ineptness in those situations. So why am I talking about listening now, well after talking about how we are slowly devaluing words and using them in circumstances when they aren't quite apt it only follows that I talk about listening to those words. In fact we, as Christians, are called to listen to one another and everyone we talk to rather than blabber in their faces all the time.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, - James 1:19
To accompany this quote, the word listen is found at least 412 times in the NIV Bible. We are called to listen to what people say, there is a great calling for this in a world where people are generally turned away from Christ because of those Christians who just shove Jesus down other's throats. I am not trying to say that we shouldn't be courageous and that we shouldn't be proclaiming Jesus in this world, but to do it to the extent that people are getting put off, to be blinded to other possibilities and to arrogantly say people are wrong because of it probably means we are going to far. With some regret I'm quite cynical when it comes to God acting in people's lives, I can't just say "God did this" or "God did that" because it doesn't quite sum up the whole experience, it's shortening the facts. What actually happened is "God acted in this persons life as such to create this coincidence here which caused this to happen". I'm not going to have a rant at how easily people get excited by these things when sometimes there is something greater happening behind it but what it does mean is that I can look past that God-blindfold to see the situation a bit better and see where people are coming from with their ideas and experiences. I've talked to people who have had severe situations occur in their lives and an God-blindfolded person destroys them by saying "It's an act of God" or "If they had some more faith....". This is people not listening and acting on a life where they've not met these experiences before. Okay, I haven't either but I've done some reading around the topic at least. Yes, it is all within God's plan for people's lives but what you're doing to non-believers is not loving, in fact it's devastating. It is destroying their view of God. You may not realise what you are saying to them is "Well God wants you in this terrible situation, in fact He allows it to happen." That's not the God I know, my God loves me throughout everything, you see stumbling right in without listening (yes I have not forgot my original topic) is like throwing a grenade without watching were you are throwing it. You might hit or cause something you really shouldn't have. Listening allows us to identify where the real problem lies, look past just the words being said. Yes questions are to be asked but being calm, collected and peaceful will allow you to pass on the Gospel much easier then just shoving things you have heard in people's faces, Jesus or not.
I do realise at this point I should explain my God-blindfold, despite it's irrelevance to the challenge of today. A God-blindfold is this thing Christians appear to do by thinking everything is God. Now don't get me wrong everything IS God but when we immediately say "God did that" we neglect the time of day to see what He actually did and miss out on the amazing-ness that is His actions. In a situation where perhaps someone has offered you a job, we can easily go "God got me a job" which in all fairness is true but we leave it at that when it really goes much further than just that in what He has done. Now fair enough you could take this back to the beginning of time if you so want to but I think you get what I mean. It's not something that is terrible to have, it allows you to easily see God in everything and so I don't want to really annoy anyone who does easily see God's actions. It's commendable really, but it's a double edged sword really.
So I hope to leave with some food for thought in terms of what it is to actually listen, and that we should listen to people properly before jumping in with the evangelistic know-how we all contain.

God Bless.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 7: Words

Today's post isn't going to be as much of a life lesson or as much of a challenge to people I don't think.
Words are a funny thing, we use them daily but sometimes we don't use them correctly. In the English language we have such words as amazing, wonderful, huge, enormous, unimaginable and many others like these, but today these words are used to describe things much smaller than what they are capable of describing which is why we talk about a new puppy with the same words as the grand canyon to stretch an example.
We constantly say God is indescribable, well that's true but it's more true now-a-days as words slowly start to lose their original grandeur. I suppose I just want to ask that people think about the words they are using,  I'm all for optimism and exaggeration for comic effect but when we start being able to use the a fore mentioned words in everyday situations then are we really using them properly?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 6: City on a Hill 2

 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5: 14-16

So now for part 2 of the City on the Hill, now taking a passage from the bible and learning from it, rather than a song that has scriptural basis. To be honest I doubt I need to tell you what this passage is about, but if you can't grasp what this is saying then here you go. This passage tell us that we should not hide our faith or our good deeds done by our faith. At this point the more biblically versed of you are probably thinking "Wait didn't Jesus rebuke the hypocrites for praying in public, then shouldn't we be hiding our good deeds?" Well no, the passage you are referring to (Matthew 6:5) is talking about people who love to be seen by others doing good deeds, they are looking for someone to take notice of what they are doing and to praise them for it. What I am saying is Jesus asks us to not hide them but He doesn't tell us to flaunt them on street corners or look for recognition in people on this world but rather that we don't subtly do good deeds, nor do things in the shadows but rather we are comfortable in ourselves to do those good deeds whether someone sees it or not, essentially do it regardless of there being any reward in any ways.
The other part of this passage is to let our faith shine out, and not to hide it. I suppose this comes with a previous  blog on being courageous and confident in our identity in Christ. We were never told to sit down on our faith and be happy with it, we weren't told that going to church once a week was how it works, what we are told, over and over again, is that our faith and relationship with Christ is eternal and daily. We have to act in it on a everyday basis, we can't sit back and do nothing one day and do a lot another in this relationship, no we have to do something everyday. I know I lack the self discipline to do so but it is something I try to strive for.

Sorry about the shortness and lateness of this post, but I hope you take some of it to heart and God starts working more in our lives.

God Bless

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 5: City on a Hill

This a two fold post as the title encompassed two topics, todays one shall be it's use in Casting Crowns's "City on a Hill". This song portrays a nation living together in the city of the hill that once was a magnificent city but now has diminished because everyone thought they could go it alone. I suppose it has links to Zion and Isreal when the Babylonians came and scattered them among the nations.
You see, the poets thought the dancer were shallow
And the soldiers thought the poets were weak
And the elders saw the young ones as foolish
And the rich man never heard the poor man speak 
We constantly put labels on others and judge them accordingly, making assumptions and treating people accordingly. I certainly judge people by first impressions and whilst my judgement may sometimes hold true, it almost always doesn't. We should be treating everyone with love and acceptance, but we don't always succeed on this point. If we let our differences and perceived differences cause us to stay away from people and if we don't tolerate and or accept different ways of doing things then how can we stand united. A common objection I find discussed in apologetics books is this "Why should I agree with you when you can't agree with each other?" Denominations are great as a form of letting people who find it easier to express themselves in a certain way do so but all to often it can become a cause for strife and argument. People get set on a particular way of doing something and start to think most other ways are generally wrong all for a sake of comfort. They are comfortable doing it this way, why do it another way yet we barely ever go search for an answer as to why they have mass or lead worship the way they do.
I recently judge a friends plan on leading worship because I felt it was more adept for a jam and not lead worship but in all honesty it has recently been one of the better worship sessions I've had. I don't know why but when I feel like there is a problem with something I try and enjoy it less but I keep getting told God "Stop resisting change and just go with it" and when I do it leads to a greater experience than before.
What I want to challenge people to do is to drop their judgements, it's not easy and you can spend most of your day going "Am I judging them prematurely or do I have proof for this?" but if it ever reaches a natural level then I can see it making life a lot more blessed. This leads on to what my main message should be and that is that we should all be standing united in Christ, not denominations, nor gifts, nor fruits of the spirit, nor strengths but quite simply in Christ. Otherwise we are in danger of following the quote up above, thinking others are shallow, weak, foolish or even completely ignoring people.
A quote by Charlie Chaplin  in "The Great Dictator" says this: The kingdom of man is in all men, not one man, not many men, but all men. I take this to mean that we aren't ever going to fully see the kingdom of God here on earth until we can see all men united for the risen Lord. This probably won't happen in my lifetime but when you catch glimpses of it in groupings of people united for Christ, it's a blessing and something to be remembered.

God Bless.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 4: Apologetics

So I haven't really found anything proper to write about today, so I'm going to write about something which I quite like. For those of you who don't know what apologetics may be, it is the defense of your faith with logic and reason, it can be used for any faith but is a term you mainly hear about in relation to Christianity. We are called to "apologize" by Peter in 1 Peter 3:15-16.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 
I've had discussions with friends about this passage and whilst it could be said that Peter is talking about telling people about Christ and being prepared to, but this passage is more commonly used in apologetics and I think it's a wonderful one which gives us quite a good basis for how to "apologize". I'm going to run through those points.
Firstly always be prepared. Our lives on earth have a peculiar knack at throwing curveballs at us, whilst I say this, I do realise it is God placing these curveballs in motion but anyway, this means that we shall regularly be met with something that surpasses our expectations. I suppose this ties in with the last blog in that we should have the courage to be bold and share the Gospel where ever we are or whatever situation we are in.
Secondly, to everyone. Peter isn't pulling any punches with the challenge he is setting out for us here. The gospel and any apologetics we do isn't for special people, it isn't for the smart, those closer to salvation than others. It is for everyone! We should be prepared to answer everyone, those looking for arguments, those seeking out God, those who we think will never ever become Christians and those who we think are so close. Peter wants us to be ready to talk to all of them and the rest of the world. I suppose it's only natural that we should always be prepared if we need to spread the message to everyone. Here though I'd like to point out it would be better to hit it off with the gospel and see where the conversation migrates to, one assumes with a number of the categories of people I mention it would be something apologetic-y.
Thirdly, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience. Now personally I think this is the tricky one out of all the things Peter asks us to do. Essentially he is asking that we love the person who is trying to prove we are wrong or less extreme, just arguing against us. I, sadly, can't help but sometimes get frustrated and some people, especially when they ask the same question over and over again despite having gotten an answer. I can only say this, take a step back and breathe, it won't matter to the discussion if you slow down because the person you are discussing with won't just up and walk away. To be honest I find it easier to talk to people over the internet because  neither of us are getting in the others face and so we can't cause a confrontational situation easily.
I'm hoping that all makes sense and I've unpacked the passage a little. The Gospel that we hold true, and the experience and knowledge we have that can be shared in apologetics is an amazing gift that we have been given. Knowing that and knowing how much we should be loving the world it should be natural for us to spreading it to everyone. I do however want to make this clear, everything I've written here is useless without prayer and God, on earth we can only go so far to getting a man to God's kingdom, it's God who will transform his heart and bring him in.

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 3: Courage and failure

Hellooo once more,

I've been listening to Courageous by Casting Crowns recently and a few of their other songs. It's struck me how we need to be more courageous in our lives and our duty as Christians to spread His word. Jesus says this to his disciples:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, -Matthew 28:19
 He never tells us to possibly do it, tells it is something that we could do, nor that it's easy but what He does say is that we should GO and MAKE disciples of all nations. This is my point today, we are always going to be equipped when we face the world, God promises us this, so why are we always so fearful of what's going to happen? I can only say it is because we are all scared of being rejected, we fear not being part of a group, being on the outside, being alone, but what if I were to tell you that all this means nothing when you compare it to the amazing protection, trust and love that God gives you. I can't talk to you like I've got it sorted because I sit there going "I could make a cheesy line about God here" but my own fear of being laughed at or breaking the image people have of me holds me back. I am not comfortable in my identity in Christ yet, there are parts where I can say that's God or He's working in my life here but I am not yet able to make Him my whole identity. Yet what I should be saying is why are not more forward in talking about Jesus, I mean we are constantly asking for prayer to talk to friends about Him and more opportunities to do so and He may give them to us but when the time comes do we act? or are we held back by a fear inside us?
See we can constantly build each other up and say we are doing a good job and all but if our own minds falter at the idea of being rejected in this world then can we say we are no longer of this world. Paul writes to the Romans about the transformation of our minds and how we should no longer be of this world. Jesus even tells us we cannot serve two masters, one, money, is a wonderful example of the material world and the other Him is a representative of God's kingdom, we cannot live in both. I did not intend to sit here talking about our fear and how we are meant to live for God's kingdom, but I must say they are so crucial for what my intention was. That is finding our identity in God so that we may not be afraid of failure.
This world has caused so many of us to define success in terms of popularity, number of friends, likability, wealth, beauty and general material things. Well guess what, God doesn't define failure that way, you fail God when you don't act the way He would and here's a bombshell that's called sinning. Yep, sin is failing God, but do you know what is the most amazing thing about this life we live as Christians, it's that no matter how much we fail a) Jesus has taken it all upon Himself and b) God loves us just the same. Now here is where I have to appeal to any non-christian who might be reading this, please don't turn off as I try to reach you here. God loves you, and I don't mean as a Bro, as a Parent, as a Lover, I mean as a Creator and in all ways possible. Despite how much we attach ourselves to not failing in front of others, He does not care about how much you've failed since He has already sent His Son to die for you and take away that failure from you just so far that you turn away from your failure yourself and accept Him.
Anyway small bit of direct evangelism over, on to the rest of this blog and the continuous indirect evangelism. Our God does not give a cahoots about how much you fail Him now that you have Jesus, in fact despite of however big a pit you dig yourself He shall always have a ladder ready for you to climb back out. The Person we are all so afraid of failing, He doesn't care about it anymore, so just who are we failing and who's standard are we falling short of? As a side note, this does not give us the liberty to sin all the time because we no longer want to sin all the time, you know the old phrase along the lines of "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" that sort of sums it up, except it's not due to Him saving us, it's out of our love for Him.
Back on topic, I can only say it's our own standards we are falling short of. I've decided that failure is one of the more selfish human conditions that exists in our world, this came to me when discussing it with friends. It is us who decided ultimately if we have failed, we set the standards, we set the end goal, we set it in motion, we do everything when we strive for something and fall short. I see some minds saying "But what about your day 1 post talking about having God in everything?" Well here's my answer. If God was the cause of your striving for something, if He was in your mind and soul as you set out, would you care about the end goal, if God has set your goal which you cannot see, how can you fail unless you assume you were meant to go further. God has an ultimate plan for us all so let Him guide you to where you need to be whether it means failing in a material sense.
This is my prayer on failure:
God, I am afraid of failing in this world that I do not belong to. Help me overcome this obstacle that stops me being able to act out for you, let me break free of these chains that prevent me spreading your Gospel. I am searching for a life where I can fully commit to you and follow you, please if it is of Your will then make me someone who can defiantly roar like a lion and stand at the front lines with your armour on. Amen
I want to move back to courage because I don't think I tackle that really and it's the part of the title. I don't have a great, big golden rule about how to become instantly great, how to be courageous in one burst, but what I can say is what I think courage is. It is the ability to stand against the tide and to take the full force and walk on. I am not courageous, I cannot stand against the full blow of a tide, I can take it bit by bit and build up against it but that's plain humanity. I know people who are courageous, these are the people who stand out as speaking their mind clearly and not tolerating what is wrong, sometimes even telling me. I am a teaser, a cheeky, intolerable one at that. I have been told by people to stop but it's too much a part of me, the thing is I promised people that I would try to tease people less but I haven't. So if anyone who knows me reads this and sees me teasing someone too much or too harshly, stop me if I don't stop myself. I do calm down around those who have told  me to stop but it shouldn't be a special right, it should be applied across the people I know and don't know. This is off topic but I feel it serves as an example of people who have stood up for what is right and not shrunk back, so how does apply to our lives with God? Easily, don't shrink back from opportunities to tell people what is right. You follow/believe in/ have a relationship with a man who, in no uncertain terms, said "I AM the way, the truth and the life" and you are worried people will take offence at that. Damn right they will! You've just told them there is a better way to live life, there is something more important to our lives than ourselves, that they aren't living life. Guess what though, we weren't told to be mice, we are, in the Father's eyes, comparable to a man who calmed storms, terrified demons and caused the greatest revolution in human history. So should we be afraid of what the broken and fallen think of us, or of what God thinks of us. I would go with the latter. Be confident in your identity in Christ and the power that He gives us and don't fear failing in man's eyes because God loves you.
Lord, thank you that you clothe me in your righteousness. Thank you for equipping me to battle each day and sit in your arms throughout the storm. I pray that I do not sit idly knowing your grace and comfort but I can step out and take hold of the opportunities you place in front of me. Don't let fear grasp my heart, derail Satan and his plans and be my shield in a fallen world. Let my knowledge of you and your promises be the foundations for my courage and the strength behind my actions. Amen
Joshua 1:9

God Bless

Day 2: Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 
So erm... I was going to write about relaxing in the Lord and doing things you want to do and not need to do but it was turning into a self righteous talk justifying the way I live life and sounding slightly angry so I stopped because I could see it doing more harm than good. So instead I give you a post about the Lord having plans for us, which is infinitely better!
We live in a world where the "I" must always be in control, if something isn't working the way we want it to then something is wrong. I can easily say I haven't experienced this enough during my Christian life to say it is amazing to completely surrender it all to God but considering all that I do already know about Him and have experienced during the past year can only lead me to know that if, and when, I do totally surrender something to Him, it will be the most wondrous experiences yet. Now if any Christians are reading this then they are probably thinking "Wait a sec there, surely you give your life to Him everyday! That's what being a Christian is all about!" Well yes it is, but be honest with yourself here have you ever sat down and given up the whole day to the Lord, I'm not saying just the big things, I mean absolutely everything. Did you listen to all the promptings He gave you, acted on the lessons He taught you and behaved the way He has showed us to? So yeah, I can say I've never been able to give over something entirely to the Lord but by the grace of God when I do that will be a moment I shan't forget. God holds some great plan for each and everyone of us and yeah it does make freewill a bit of an oddball to mix in, but here's my ten pence on the matter. We choose to follow that plan, we choose to give up control, we choose to let Him guide us and lead us where ever that may be to. So at the end of the day it is our choice but be honest now, after re-reading the opening quote of this, can you say it is not the better choice to give it all up?
And that is my challenge/lesson for today. Why should I/we not be giving our lives to God everyday? Because He holds such a better plan for our lives than we could imagine, we have to stop trying to live our lives in the knowledge that we know best but by the knowledge that He knows best. So yeah, I'm not advocating that you should sit down before you pray and pray that God will guide your prayer but rather act your life in the way God wants you to and has taught you to. Some people wear a band that says "What would Jesus do?" well He would be perfect all the time, so I'm going to ask you to think of something a little simpler to meet "What would Jesus want you to do?" Hopefully we will all someday live a life where we can meet what Jesus wants us to do 90% of the time and do it happily.

Lord, thank you that you have plans for me and for the world as a whole. I ask that you could help me to submit to this plan whenever possible and to live my life as you would want me to because, to be frank, I couldn't live it any better even if I made all the right choices. I once again surrender my life to you Lord and I pray that this time You can keep it all and that I don't hold even an atom back from you. It's a joy to live for you and I shall continue to do so and continue to spread to others this joy. Keep protecting me Lord as I know you do already so I can continue to be confident in You. Thank you Lord, Amen.

As a side note I hadn't come up with this topic until I turned away from facebook to write it and a friends picture caught my attention. It inspired me to talk about this and I like to think it was in His plans that I do this rather than what I had previously thought of. Thank God I didn't follow my impulses and angry emotions but calmed down and found this gem.

God Bless

Monday, March 19, 2012

day 1: returning home

I came home today, back from university for two weeks of so called "vacation". I find coming home surprisingly easy from most viewpoints as it just means going back to an old setting I haven't quite turned away from yet but at the same time it can be very hard as I've spent 18 years with my family and created habits here that I am prone to falling back into, and I usually do. This time however I am going to try and make things different, I shall try to strike up better habits and keep the ones I have made in York. This includes reading the bible, actually doing some prayer each day and if possible waking up earlier.
And so here is my lesson for today: Keep moving on, the past is good to learn from but don't get trapped in it!
9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. -2 Peter 1:9
Paul warns us that we should constantly be growing in the fruits of the Spirit, and if we don't then, well we are nearsighted and blind. "Surely though this is telling us that we must just be kind, loving, gentle, full of self control, it doesn't mean we can't keep old routines or fall back into them!" I hear you cry, but I would have to disagree. We are transformed when we accept the Holy Spirit, and yeah you might turn off now because you've heard all this before but I ask you don't. The Holy Spirit is a messenger sent by the Father Himself to govern in our lives and to help us choose those new habits and new routines that are better for us. No, I don't mean He does it all for us, that would make it too easy for us, but it does mean when we make that choice we are not alone, our own individual, but global, Personal Trainer is right next to us from that first step to make sure that each step goes to the right place! Now that's the amazing thing about God, He wants us to do better for ourselves so that we can do better for others and ultimately do better for Him. This however does not mean all we do is guided by God because occasionally we forget to add Him and His plans into what we do and so, to continue an analogy, we ditch the personal trainer and the gym and decide to try to get ourselves into shape with no help at all. This can produce good results, you can get into good habits, be healthy and grow into someone better but at the end of the day you're relying on you and so you're still being slightly selfish and it's never going to yield results as good as God could produce in you!

Sorry I'm failing my own expectations of keeping to a plan this time by whilst writing about not falling into old habits being really distractable again... in writing this I've checked facebook, wished two people happy birthday, played mahjong titans and left the room. I'm going to say this outright, when it comes to doing something I am a great failure. I rarely ever truly give something up to God, when I do I forget how much He has helped me and if I don't I fail to recognize the strength He gives me despite my failings. This brings me to a point I didn't think I'd make, God is a personal God. Yeah He loves us personally and we've heard it so many times it doesn't set our guts on fire anymore, heck I've been a Christian for a year and my belly's fire isn't on fire completely hearing it. BUT more than being a personal God who loves the people on the Earth each individually, He is wants to be so personal with you He a) asks you to make him the number one in your life and to be more intimate with him than your closest relation but b) He comes and uses the things you don't give Him for you, He loves you so much that when you hide something from Him or forget Him, He's there making sure that it works out best for you already.

So I'm sitting here on my bed writing this at 1:00 am in the morning with new things coming into my head all the time yet I can only really put one things to words:
Lord come bless this blog I am starting to write. Come give me your words and what you want the world to learn from this writing of mine. Let me speak to people from different lives, backgrounds and futures. Let them see your glory here and don't let Satan take this and use it for his purpose but banish him from my mind and writing. I should have done this at the beginning of this and will do from now on, so Lord, Father, Pops in the Sky help me remember you more, help me to add you in my life more often and help me to add you into others life more often, let me not shrink back from sharing my faith but be personalised, characterised by my faith. Thank you, Lord. Amen

Okay I lied, that wasn't the only thing I could put into words but it is what I wanted to and what felt right to have written then. That there is me turning over a new leaf in my commitments and hopefully in my sharing Jesus with the world! I hope you can look at those words and something does resonate with you. If it doesn't then perhaps this, that I forgot, might:
Lord, the fire in me is burning low, the fuel is running out and my passion is turning to complacency. Relight that fire, do not let me become complacent in following you, let me be constantly searching for you and let me be constantly excited about you! Please Lord do not let this mind that is ruled by flesh overpower my soul that is ruled by you, constantly take control in my life and constantly use me for your good in this world. Amen

 I apologize for the amount of "constantly"s in that short prayer but let's be honest we need to be doing a lot of things constantly to get anywhere near to possibly even being the tiniest bit of a less than good person. We are selfish beings at our center and it drives all the evil in our world that we cannot seek out other people, let alone our Creator who deserves to be sought out from our birth.
I digress though, God helps us establish new habits that are good for us throughout our life and he helps us nurture ones which will teach us lessons despite the fact they may fall away later.
I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me. - Isaiah 45:5
He is the one and only, He is the strength of nature, of the leviathon and the bacterium, He doesn't need you to allow Him to do anything but it is wrong of us to think we could actually do anything on our own. Let God help bring new life to your failing commitments, maybe strike up those failed Lent plans again but this time daily tell God that you need Him and see how  long you can keep them this time!

That was long but I hope the message was there, I covered a lot when all I meant to talk about was not falling into old ruts but thanks for reading it all.

God Bless.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Let's get started

So well this is  my first blog, and I weirdly have decided to start out whilst I should be getting ready to go home. My plan for this blog is to talk about lessons I learn through the day and bring them back to the bible and how they work within a Christian context.
I suppose today is either  sharing your faith, as through this blogspot, or travel related. I'll find out and get back to you about it!
So that you can relate to me slightly, I'm a Christian and proud to be one, especially with all the new reports of science starting to support God's existing making it easier for me to say I'm a Christian when in an academic and science based area. To explain that I'm finishing university in July and study a science based course.
That's me in a nutshell, hopefully future posts will be much more entertaining and meaningful :)

thanks for tuning in