Month: May 2016

Give me strength

6113035626_44032eddc6_z

You can’t beat a good children’s song with actions, and one of the ones I remember the most from when I was little was ‘the wise man built his house upon the rock’ – in fact I am singing it now, and will continue to sing for the remainder of the time writing this blog, and quite possibly the remainder of the day!

The song is from on of Jesus’ easiest parables to understand. Wise man built his house upon the rock, whilst the foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down and the floods came up. The rain came down and the floods came up. The rain came down and the floods came up… The house on the rock stood firm, whilst the house on the sand fell flat.

The theme for this week is ‘give me strength’, and you may be struggling to wonder what this has got to do  with the parable of the builders. Our quote comes from C S Wade who says…

Your source of strength comes from your foundation. Stay grounded, focused and believe in God.

 What is the foundation in your life? Jesus makes it all sound incredibly simple, saying that our foundations should be built on God. If our foundations are built on God, then no matter what life throws at us, whatever silly decisions we make, we will have strength to carry on, and to not lose everything of importance. We are also told that we do not need to do anything in our strength, but can rely on God.

I often wonder how this can possibly be, even though I have experienced it myself many times. Although I know it is mainly about our personal relationship with God, I think it is also about being part of that larger community of the Church. Last Sunday evening I went to the service at Canterbury Cathedral with the Archbishop of Canterbury, bringing together  the week of prayer leading up to Pentecost. It was a fantastic service, it was great to see so many people that I knew, including so many Archbishop’s pupils as well. It is services like these that remind me, being a Christian is not something you do on your own, yes, you always have God with you, but also you share foundations of faith with millions across the world.

We need to have our own foundations in God, and that is where our strength will come from. But what a blessing to know that we are stronger together, and that although we may have differing ideas on some things. The fundamentals are shared. The Church has amazing foundations that we share. We cannot be shaken.

Challenge: find other examples from the Bible that talk about buildings as metaphors for our relationship with God – there are lots

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that we do not need to do anything in our strength, but that our strength is found in you. Help us to strengthen our foundations in you, so that we cannot be shaken when tough times come. Amen

Advertisements

Love EVERY neighbour

3363949454_45d0578e0a_z

Yesterday I was watching an episode of ‘the middle’. The mum of the family had gone shopping, purely to get a container of the nicest cooked chicken ever. When she went to pay for it she realised she didn’t have her purse. The man in the queue behind her offered to pay for it, she tried to get his address to be able to pay it back, but he said “don’t worry about it, just promise me you’ll pay it forward” by this he meant, do something similar for someone else. The mum of the family did what she always does and used this as an opportunity to ‘better’ her family. So she made all the family ‘pay it forward’ to another member of the family, they picked names out of the hat, and then announced the name. Some of the things turned out really well, but there were, inevitably some disasters.

Why do we do nice things for people? Is it because we’ve been told to? Is it because we’re hoping to get something back? Is it because it makes us feel better? In ‘friends’ (yes I do watch a lot of tv), there is an episode where Joey tells Phoebe that there is no such thing as a selfless act. She refuses to believe him. But as she tries to prove him wrong she understands more and more that maybe, he was right. Afterall why do pupils pay £1 to wear non-uniform? Is it to benefit the charity they are supporting? Or is it to be able to wear their own clothes? The question really is… Does it matter?

The theme this week is ‘love every neighbour’ and the thought comes from John Bunyan who says…

You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you

This week is Christian Aid week. The aim of Christian Aid is to eliminate poverty. They do a variety of work, including emergency aid when disasters strike. But two of their main things are:  to work alongside communities in poverty, and to expose poverty and to challenge and change systems that favour the rich.

They work alongside communities, not to take over, but to support and educate them in order to be support themselves and to take themselves out of poverty and build up their own communities. It’s very easy, when you see someone struggling, yo just take over and do the job for them. But does that actually help them? What happens in the future when they get stuck again? Christian aid aims to help people develop their own communities, so that Christian Aid are no longer needed.

They also expose poverty, and try to challenge and change systems that favour the rich. Essentially they recognise that unless they tackle the root of the problem, the problem will never go away. The people of Christian aid would be much happier if there was no need for their charity! They run advertising campaigns to show what atrocities there are in the world, they lobby governments in order to change and eradicate the root causes.

Why do they do this? Because they are following Jesus’ command “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself”. Their love for God, makes them want to  love their neighbour. Not just their friends, or people on their street but everyone. There is no discrimination in who they help, they do not have to be Christian communities, and the do not try to convert them to Christianity. They recognise that Jesus helped those who were rejected by others, and they want to do the same. Jesus tried to tackle root problems, and they are trying to do the same.

These things take time, and the people of Christian aid may never see the full eradication of poverty, or even the full result of their work in communities. But they are demonstrating their love for every neighbour and are not expecting anything back from those communities at all.

Christianity is not about following rules, it’s not about saying words, it’s about accepting the love of God, and showing that love to others. Not because you’ve been told to, not to get a reward, but because you want to.

Challenge: visit the Christian Aid Website. Find out more about what they do, and see if there is something you want to get involved with. That may be raising money, it may be raising awareness of the issues.

Prayer: Father a God, we thank you that you love us, and that we are able to be in relationship with you. We thank you for the work of Christian aid, not only physically helping people, but tackling root causes. We pray that you may light on ur hearts to want to show your love to those in need, both in theories but also in our own communities. Amen.

Which path do I take?

4311667717_f143ba91d7_z

Choices choices choices. On Saturday I said to a friend “make the decision for me, I have no capacity to make a choice”! This was a very important decision. Did I want a chocolate caramel or strawberry cornetto?

We have to make choices all the time whether it’s what we’re going to wear, whether to play or do work, pudding or no pudding, or just which pudding.

The year 11s are about to start their last week of GCSE study, their main exams start in a weeks time. Then what? Do they stay at school for A levels; do they do A levels somewhere else; do they go to college; do they get an apprenticeship?

They have many paths to choose from, and the path they choose IS going to have an impact on the rest of their lives. This is quite a scary and daunting prospect to be facing at 16.

The year 13s will soon be finishing their formal, compulsory education, so have to decide whether to stay in education or whether to get a job.  Even more daunting.

We all have to make decisions and the way in which we make those decisions is going to differ. We may follow our instinct, we may ask other people’s advice, we may choose what we want to do, even if it’s not necessarily what we know we should be doing.

Our thought for the week comes from proverbs and says

Seek God’s will in all you do and he will show you which path to take

People have a tendency to turn to God when the going gets to tough and there is a big decision to be made. The problem with that is that they sometimes find it difficult to determine what God is saying, or where he is directing them.

What this proverb is saying is that if we are constantly seeking God’s will, in the small things as well, then he will always show us us which path to take. But how do seek Gods will? We know what is expected of us from our parents, friends, families and teachers because we spend time with them. It is the same with God, by spending time reading the Bible, and in prayer, we will understand what Gods will is. We won’t need to ask every single time, but we will find it so much easier when we do.

Its not promised that it’s going to be an easy path, but it is the correct path. The great thing is though, even if we choose the wrong path, let’s face it we all will, God will always be with us and be holding our hands.

Our lives are full of decisions, some bigger than others, but still decisions. Seek Gods will – He will show you.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you guide us, help us, and direct us. May we seek your will every day so that we seek your will in the big things as well. Amen

Challenge: think about a big choice you’ve got coming up, spend some time praying and seeking Gods will in that decision.

Looking up to heaven

4290784933_312dfbb2ed_z

I quite often hear lots of voices in my head, telling me to do different things in different situations. Those voices are the voice of my parents, teachers, friends, celebrities, and so many more. We get influenced by so many people, so many things, that sometimes it can get a bit overwhelming.

This is honestly something I have been thinking about a lot recently. The effect that everyone else and everything else has on us. Not just when making decisions, but also when living our everyday lives, and the way in which we choose to live.

This week’s quote for the week comes from Connie Ten Boom who says

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God you’ll be at rest.

 It’s about getting balance in our lives. If we only focus on what is going on in the outside world, we can get jealous, or think that we should be living in a certain way, there are unnecessary pressures put on us which can cause us to get anxious. If we only focus on ourselves then we can become selfish, but also focussing on the negatives about us. We need to find the balance between the two.

For Christians this balance come from not looking at the world, not looking at ourselves, but looking to heaven. By looking to heaven we can know that God is with us, beside us in everything. By looking to heaven we can change ourselves to be reflective of God, and to change the world.

So next time, you find yourself in a troublesome situation, listening to the voices, listen to yourself, but at all times Seek God and what he wants to say to you.

I’m going to leave it there for this week.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you still speak to us and guide us today. May we always seek your will in our lives. Amen

Challenge – Rather than reading what I’ve got to say. Spend some time listening to what God wants to say to you.