Thursday, 5 April 2012

Pointless.



Picture the scene: I'm in my living-room watching Pointless on BBC1 with my mum. A question on the location of airports that are named after someone famous. "Jorge Chavez Airport" comes up, and my brain scrambles for an answer, eventually arriving at Peru. I'm not sure why, but I feel confident about this. Later, my answer is proven correct and I turn to my mother awaiting her approval of my incredible brain power. She's sleeping.

I was devastated. I'd found a top answer on the pinnacle of BBC1 daytime television, and was rightly very proud. In turning to my fellow daytime television-watcher, I was ready to receive congratulations and hearty back-pats. But it wasn't coming. And I'm glad it wasn't. My search for recognition was clear, looking to get the approval of another even in the tiniest of arenas.

It got me thinking. How often do we do something on the condition that we believe we'll get recognition for our 'achievements'. Merely looking for another human being's approval, and ignoring our Father's act of incredible love. See, God loves us. Like, really loves us. And He's proud of us whatever we do, because when He looks at our record, He sees His Son's perfect, spotless record. Because He sent our Son to die for us.

In terms of looking for approval, we don't need to. It is, as the title suggests, pointless.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Belated Thanksgiving..

Up until this year, I've always been dubious of the 'holiday' thanksgiving. For me, it's always seemed to be just a reason for chunky Americans to load up on turkey. But this year, my Portsmouth church (King's) decided to have a thanksgiving service. And suddenly, my whole mindset on this glorious day in November has changed. It doesn't have to just be an American holiday. I was made aware of how the thanksgiving holiday can be used to give glory to God, while also eating turkey and my new favourite, Sweet Potato Pie. 



So, i'm going to do that traditional cheesy American thing of listing the things I'm thankful for..

Here we go, bear with me!
- God's love.
- Friends.
- Family.
- Two loving churches.
- A b-e-a-utiful girlfriend. (I haven't told you bloggy readers about this, I shoulda. My bad!)
- Meat.
- The opportunity to be a part of the Christian Union.
- God's provision in my life.
- Older Christians who care about my well-being, and want to mentor me to be closer to God. 
- The beauty of Gower.
- The urban beauty of Portsmouth.
- Toasties.
- Doughnuts.
- The ability I have to live comfortably.


There are so many more I could list. But I should probably get back to my essay. In a bizzle!


Tuesday, 15 November 2011

There is nothing you could ever do...

"There is nothing you could ever do to make me love you less".


This is one of my favourite videos ever. The gospel truth that there is nothing that we could do that could make God love us less. Wow.

(Put aside your views on Rob Bell for a second, and just watch it..)

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Spirit of God...



..does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7


Did you know that God gave you a Spirit of power? A Spirit of love? How about self-disicipline?

I think we focus a lot (usually, quite rightly) on how rubbish we, as humans, are. We see that it's only through God's grace that we are able to live in relationship with him. While obviously it's right, to an extent, to focus on our failings and God's glory, I think we miss out the second part of the story.

See, we messed up. We always do, we are not perfect. Then God sent His Son to die for us. To make it all right. To absorb our sin, our shame, our pain. Through His perfect grace, we are brought closer to Him. And I think for a lot of us, the story stops there. We have God's grace, therefore we're sorted. Job done. But I think the verse above helps show us that that's not the end of the story. Through God's love and grace, we are not just made right. We are given a Spirit of power, love and self-discipline.


Through God we are given power. For me, this means the power to make a difference. The power to be able to make a difference for God. To heal in His name, to prophesy etc. I love that idea. That God has given us power. Do you feel powerful because of your relationship with God? I know sometimes, I don't at all.

He also gives a Spirit of love. As 1 John 4:8 says, "God is love". Later in that passage it says "since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." Clearly, this shows that accepting God's love for us is enough. We have to love others with the same Godly love that we have received. Through His Spirit, we are given the ability to love.

Ah yes, self-discipline. So, we have power, and we have love. If the verse in 2 Timothy stopped there, I think we'd all be pretty happy, right? We have God's power, we have God's love. Cracking. No, God doesn't want us to stop there. He wants us to be self-disciplined. We need to be disciplined in ourselves in order to truly carry out the love and power that God gives us. For me, this is the biggest struggle out of the three aspects of this verse. To discipline myself, bringing myself closer to God. It's definitely one I'm learning about recently.

So. Live your life, knowing that the Spirit of God "gives us power, love and self-discipline."

Thursday, 29 September 2011

This is your Life..

For about the last 9 months, I've been pretty much obsessed with the message of one book, obsessed with one passage in the bible, and pretty much taken completely by one image, all of which I think can change all of our lives.

The book.
The book was "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" by Mark Batterson. I borrowed it from a friend, read it in a week, and raved about it for the next 9 months. It takes and expands the story of Benaiah. If you don't know who Benaiah is, go read 2 Samuel 23:20-21, and let it change your life. He saw a lion. And chased it. Let me repeat that. He saw a LION and CHASED it. He CHASED a LION. Not worrying about the possible consequences, he chased a lion.
This is one of my favourite quotes from the book..

"Lion Chasers challenge the status quo. They climb cliffs, move to foreign countries, and build boats in the desert. Lion chasers are often considered crazy, but they are able to do these things because they are not afraid of uncertainty. They don't need to know what's coming next because they know that God knows."


The bible verse.
Philippians 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Just incredible. What a passage. Do not look behind, do not stop pressing. Do not forget the prize for which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus. That's all I need to say on that.


The image.







Those are the three things that have framed my life for the last 9 months-ish. Check 'em out.


Love God. Love People. Simple.




Friday, 23 September 2011

Keep Your Head Up..


Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Ben Howard




Ben Howard is one of favourite artists of the last couple of months, and I could not be more excited about his new album coming out next month. As well as shamelessly advertising his album, I want to think about the main hook of his song "Keep Your Head Up".

The verses of this song talk about 'swimming through darkness' and about a relationship that has grown apart. And you start to think this isn't going to be a fun song to listen to. Then the chorus hits.


Keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
No, no, no, no.
Keep your mind set, keep your hair long.
Oh my darlin' keep your head up, keep your heart strong.
Oh no no, keep your mind set in your ways, keep your hair,
Keep your hair long.
'Cause I'll always remember you the same,
oh eyes like wild flowers, with your demons of change.




The chorus reassures us to keep our heads up. To keep looking at the positive. Stay focused and keep your mind set. I think that's incredibly profound, and something we can all apply to our lives. When things are crap, when all seems to be going horrendously wrong, keep your head up. God is good, keep your head up.
I don't know if Ben Howard loves Jesus, but the message in this song is just beautiful.

I just love this song, it's message, and it's music. Incredible.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

12 months...

3 days ago I moved into my house that I will be living in for my second year of university. It was really strange feeling so different this year, from how I felt exactly 12 months ago. There's just something different this time round, I feel so much more positive about the year to come, about the friendships that are going to be built and the connections that are going to be made. I thought about this, and decided to devise a list of reasons why it's different this year.

1.. 12 months changes your circumstance.
This time last year, I was a nervous little fresher who was worried about everything. I wasn't sure if i'd get along with my housemates (considering we'd only arranged to live together 2 weeks previously..). I wasn't sure if i'd be able to find a church I could get involved with. I was worried that I wouldn't connect with my course. I was just worried.

But this year, all that has changed. I'm excited about living with housemates that I've had a year to get to know, I'm connected with an incredible, welcoming church that I have had the privilege to be connected with. Even the first year of my course has been a gradual welcome into university work. I've had the experience of one year in Portsmouth, one year of University. I've learnt that it's not always going to be great, but that my time in university has the potential to be one of the best times of my life.

2.. 12 months changes you.
A year ago, I was a lot different to how I am now. God has used the last 12 months to radically change me. I feel closer to God, not because His love has changed, but because my awareness of Him has been incredibly sharpened. God is the same God, but His work in my life in the last 12 months is leading me towards seeing more of His heart. He is pushing me to change myself, from a socially awkward person who lacks confidence to someone who is becoming more aware of the confidence I can have through Him.

3.. 12 months changes your heart.
I have had the privilege to spend time with people in the last year who have inspired me, challenged me, pushed me to greater things. A few of my closest friends have shown me the importance of knowing God's divine plan. If you look back at my blog postings throughout the last year, you would see 3 or 4 posts on God's Plan. These have mostly come from big events that have rocked the lives of my closest friends. I've been inspired by their increasing heart for God, and their hunger to see His plan in the midst of the apparent mess.

Before I came to university, I had a pretty simple view of my life. If life was good, God was good. That's changing. The last 12 months have shown me that that's not the case, not at all. When life is good, God is good. When life is rubbish, God is good. My heart is being turned towards His plan, and His ways. He's increasingly laying things on my heart. I have a greater awareness of other people's needs. He's showing me that life is simple. So simple.

Love God. Love People.