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Jun
22nd
Tue
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Read your bible.

I dont know if you’re like me or not, but I have very big ambitions to read the bible through in completion.  Over the years I’ve tried many different study guides….tried to read the bible in a year, etc.

Even recently I started a new type of study guide in order to read the bible through in a year…I got to March before it all started going pear-shaped on me.  I find that I just don’t have the discipline to stick with it day in, day out.

That said, I have a real heart for the word of God and I desire to get more and more out of it as I read.  I pray before I start, asking the Holy Spirit (who inspired the word to be written) to give me wisdom to understand what I’m about to read…I really do desire more and more understanding of the word.

I recently tweeted, asking for hints and tips on studying the word more and better…hints, tips and advice DID NOT come in large quantity.  However, what did hit my inbox was a link to a Rob Frost blog post.  In this, he described an event in his life where he started to meet with a friend and they just read the word.

His friend would read the bible through about 3 or 4 times a year.  That’s right…read the entire bible through 3 or 4 times a year!

This hit me like a truck…”read the word, just for the sake of reading the word”  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just read the word.

I guess I just wanted to encourage you and say that if, like me, you’re struggling with reading the word in a sustainable format then…just read it.  Read it like you would read a novel, read it for the flow.  I’ve started doing this last night, and am at Genesis 7 (I was in bed and tired!!!).  I’ll keep you updated as I go, but how about you try it and let me know how you’re getting on.

My hope is that through reading the word in this way (as well as formal study) then I’ll get to know Jesus in a deeper and more meaningful way.

…I hope you do too!

Jun
17th
Thu
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The Little Foxes

Song of Solomon 2:15 says: “Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vineyard.  For our vineyards are in blossom

Whilst the Song of Solomon is principally a book of passion and sensuality between a shepherd and his Shulamite bride, there’s a little wisdom in there that can be applied to our lives as Christians.

If you’re anything like me then you’ll recognise the fact that sometimes we can be SO pulled in many directions that, all of a sudden, you feel like God’s a million miles away.  For me, it’s like one moment I’m close to God, then all of a sudden he’s dipped off behind the sofa and I didn’t realise it happened.

Yes, we do have to remember that there is a devil who is trying to destroy us at any cost…but aside from the one who shall remain nameless, there are many of life’s distractions that do JUST THAT to our walk of faith…distract us!

I wonder if this, in part, is what the scripture calls “The Little Foxes”?  These foxes that get in and spoil things that they have no right in getting close to…for us it could be one of many things that would typically include our time, our finances, our peace, our relationships, our desires, our attitudes or simply our attention.

There are so many areas of our lives that the devil AND daily life ‘stuff’ would trample on, that we could be forgiven or even justified in thinking “This must be my lot” and “Perhaps there’s something wrong with me, that my relationship to Jesus is never consistently strong”

In reaching this place of desperation (yes, even the beloved get a little desperate sometimes!) we also need to remember that things were never going to be easy for us as Christians.  Jesus himself said that “Narrow is the path that leads to everlasting life”.  Yes, daily stuff might get in the way but this could be indicating an area where we need to discipline ourselves a little harder.  

It could be that, in order to cultivate our relationship with Jesus we need to get off the sofa, put down the bag of nachos, switch off the TV and actually get before God in worship and prayer.  It could be that if you’re not feeling a particularly close sense of his presence then other things might be creeping in instead.

This would, ultimately, be something that you would need to weigh up for yourself with humility and integrity…but it’s never too bad that it cant be resolved.

There again though, it could be that the father of lies is trying to pull you off track with God through one of a many different ‘foxes’.  It could be that he’s trying his hardest to pull you away from spending time with Jesus, that he’ll do just about anything to accomplish this task.  If you’re in this camp then TAKE HEART…Jesus is with you, and desires your presence SO much.  If you just call out to him then he’ll help you right where you are.

Those little foxes can pretty much come in any shape or size for you.  Whatever they look like for you, the principal remains…that they are there to spoil the vineyard of your relationship with Him.  Your role in this is quite simple: to recognise when it happens and remember what to do in that moment.

I’m not advocating the destruction of all sofas and nachos…but in taking some of these transitory things out of our lives for a moment, it might give us the opportunity to step back with clarity and see what’s really going on!

Jun
15th
Tue
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I DON’T fear God…but I know I should!

I’ve been thinking a little this week about the ‘Fear of the Lord’, and how that plays out in my Christian life.  I tend to listen to a lot of teaching podcasts, including the excellent teaching from Apostles Church in New York.  

Recently, they’ve been talking about this very subject which has really challenged me, particularly when it comes to the uncomfortable subject of my sin.  It’s something that I’d really rather not think about…my sin.  I’m assuming it’s something that you dont tend to give a lot of thought to in your day to day life either.

The truth of the fact is, if I DON’T think about it and if I try to sweep it under the carpet then I would be a darned site happier.  However, I need to get real with myself.

If we take scripture, for example, there are MANY examples of how a Holy and a Righteous God abhorred sin.  You only have to think about the story of Annanias and Saphira and how they dropped down dead…for lying! What about Lot’s wife who turned to a pillar of salt because she chose to ignore ONE thing that God had told her.  Let’s not even get into the subject of Old Testament sin, and how that was dealt with back then.  

Simply put, God HATES sin!

Now, were I to fear God as I should then things would be very different.  I would be VERY careful about what I put in front on my eyes, what I do with my hands, what thoughts I allow through my mind, where I allow my imagination to wander to, what I allow my mouth to speak, where I place the treasure of my heart and what I allow into my ears.  As scripture says, it’s not what what goes into a man that defiles him…it’s what comes out of him!

Were I to REALLY fear God as I should then my life would be very much different!

Don’t misunderstand me…this isn’t an exercise in naval-gazing, or even a quick little pity-party.  However, it is a small wake-up call to myself about how I choose to live my life.  I want to fear God as I should, but for some reason I dont…perhaps I’ve not suffered enough for my sin yet, or that I rely too much on the grace that Jesus chooses to pour out on me.

However, what I DO know is that something’s not right.  As the famous line in “The Matrix” goes…

"…I know *exactly* what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad." 

It’s like a splinter in my mind…knowing that there’s a resulting way to live, and not being there yet.  I want to fear God, but dont completely…and why I don’t frustrates me no end.

That said, what I DO know is that the grace of God covers a multitude of sins.  I don’t take that grace for granted, but am thankful that it’s given regardless of who I am.  I’m thankful that Jesus chooses to look past who I am and what I do but loves me regardless.  Perhaps THAT’S the good news we’re always talking about?

These are really just my musings on the matter, but I believe that there are more of you out there feeling the same.  Let us encourage each other in this…Not fearing God as we should does not mean that we’re not saved, or are not becoming the people of God that we’re called to be…I think it simply means we’re continuing works in progress.

What do you think?

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BE the Church

This is a tough one for me, as it’s been a complete change of mindset over the past couple of years…

You see, for many years now I’ve viewed church as the big place that contains lots of people.  I would go on a Sunday and sing, pray and listen to someone preach on this or that topic.  All seemed well, but I wondered why I was becoming bored and disillusioned the same ol’ routine!

I’ve now begun to realise that instead of going to church, I need to start BEING the church.  I say ‘begun’ because the practical outworking of this is more than the intellectual understanding of it.  I am beginning to understand the implications of what church means to me, and how I contribute to it as a whole.

What does scripture say?  Well, it tells us to love God and then love our neighbours…THAT’S church.  Loving God first and foremost and then loving the people around us.  I’m also beginning to realise that I’m not supposed to have an agenda…love people so that they’ll love God.  I’m beginning to realise that I need to be loving people because God loves us.

What about you?  Where do you fit into this?

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The Importance of Communion

I’ve been thinking recently about communion and why we do it…so I wanted to share some thoughts with you…

I no longer think it’s enough to just do it, more that we understand WHY we do it.  There are so many aspects of our Christian life that we take for granted…we go to church, we sing, we pray, we fellowship, we listen to numerous sermons and we also take communion.

Perhaps we do these things SO often that the impact of what we’re doing starts to fade.  We no longer recognise the power that accompanies these aspects of our ‘walk’, and we end up getting complacent and blase’ about them.

After much scripture-searching a thought hit me.  The night of Jesus’ betrayal, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prays “Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me”.  However, we already know that Jesus went to the cross for our sins, so it makes perfect sense that there WAS no other way for our redemption to take place…Jesus HAD to die on the cross.

Put another way, if God knew all things before the beginning of time and knew of redemptions’ plan, then He already knew what it would cost him to redeem us.  Despite this he still carried out the plan.  Bear in mind that he cast out Satan and a third of the angels from heaven so that justice would be carried out, so he didn’t actually HAVE to save us…he CHOSE to.  Therefore, knowing this drives home the point:

God didn’t have to save or redeem us.  He could have cast us out on the basis of perfect justice (SOMEONE had to pay for our sins…it should have been us!) but instead he chose another to pay for our sins.  He knew it would be his son and he sent him anyway.

Now THATS grace!

So back onto the subject of communion and answering the question of why we do it.  Simply, we do it because it’s important to remember.  Jesus at the last supper instructed the disciples to “Do this in remembrance of me”, and there is no reason why we should stop.

In the busyness of our lives we need to pause sometimes and remember that all we have is given to us by grace.  We take the bread, remembering that someone had to pay for our sins…and Jesus took the punishment upon himself.  We take the wine, remembering that our sins are many (I know mine are!) and that Jesus’ blood paid the price for them all.  We remember because it’s important to remember.  We remember because this is our way of appreciating once again that it cost Jesus EVERYTHING.

So next time you’re taking communion, remember Jesus and remember the price that was paid.  He gave up everything for us, so that we could receive everything from him.

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The beginning of a new blog

I’ve not really been a person who ‘stays’ with a blog site, only really because I’ve not found the time or was motivated enough to use one.  I have all these great ideas of “hey, why not start a blog and get down what I think about stuff”…only to find that 3 weeks in I forget about it.

However, today heralds the start of something new for me.  A pre-meditated coffee with a very good friend finds me musing over using a blog site to think things through…to document what I feel about God, The Church, Scripture, and everything else in between.

I guess this will end up being my ‘sermon’ blog, but I hope in the process that followers will become encouraged with what I write, and feel like commenting on my thoughts.

I welcome you all, and hope to start a dialogue!

Peace all