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Archive for December, 2005

Sunset/sunrise

Sunsets on another year.
12 hours from now and the dawn will be rising.
Unknown lands lie beyond this night.
Yet you and I walk hand in hand.

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What ever happened to the chocolate bars called Whispers?

What will I do with thoughts that float around in my brain on holiday and will I be able to get away from the feeling that I should be typing them on a screen for random people to read? I think this will be good for me, as sometimes it’s good to dwell in the moment, to live an unrecorded life. I’m looking forward to reading some more of Narnia, enjoying, and arguing with, my lovely family, living in a world without watches, walking on beaches staring at the sea and marvelling at our amazing God.

It’s already strange being away from broadband, the place I call home and all the things I use to define me and my worth in Brighton. Maybe it will just be good to get away to a place where I can be with my Father, where He comes first and where I can sit and listen to the old old story.

Things here will resume after Christmas. I was sitting writing Christmas cards today marvelling at all the random people who get my prayer letter, some of whom have never met me (random indeed) and thankful for the people out there who care about the work I do and who care about me. I am massively grateful to all the people God has used to affect and influence me. And if you are reading this here’s to you. A song by a lesser known band which sums up all I want to say. So if you are reading this consider this a massive thank you and appreciation of you. Impersonal maybe. But the reality is there.

“To all my childhood heroes,
and everything you’ve shown,
All your little weaknesses, all your righteous codes,
To all who have encouraged me in every single way
The messes I get into, the crazy things I say.

Here’s to you my friends, here’s to you
For all that you have given, for all you’ve seen me through,

For my loved and cherished ones
I thank the Lord above,
For all the care they give me, for their unfailing love.
To those who scaled the mountains
To my friends in the vale,
May Jesus walk beside you,
May your faith never fail.

Here’s to you, my friends, here’s to you
For all that you have given, for all you’ve seen me through.”
(The Electrics)

Have good Christmases, know the peace that comes from the Emmanuel. Remember the one who came to the madness, and rest in His arms.

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Christmas bumper posting

Tomorrow I head off on my holidays, firstly to the land of Guildford to enjoy parental home warmth, old friends and sleep. Then onto a small holiday cottage with my family for Christmas. Hence the bumper posting of tonight. Dial up and being in the middle of no-where for a week will give me a small break from this rather strange world of blogging.

So some last Christmas thoughts, building on the friendship theme, here’s a verse for those out there who might be finding the journey a bit too steap at the moment.

From “It came upon a midnight clear”

“And those whose journey now is hard,
whose hope is burning low,
who tread the rocky path of life,
with painful steps and slow:
O listen to the news of love
which makes the heavens ring!
And rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing!”

May we all know more of the reality of a God who loves us, likes us and came down to be one of us over the next two weeks. Through all the fun, celebrations, hard times, pain and reminders of the past we encounter, may the God who breathed life into us, set us on this journey, and will get us home, come and breathe new life and vision into our bones. Hear again the awesome world changing event of the Word becoming flesh. The defining point of history. The defining point of our lives. God steps in. Emmanuel has come. There is hope.

And the word became flesh and dwelt
And the word became flesh and lived amongst us
And the word became flesh
Became flesh like you
Flesh like me
And the word became flesh

Heaven held its breath

And the word became flesh.

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image

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Friends…

Friendship must be one of the most underrated things in this world. It’s brilliant, wonderful and many other massive superlatives. It’s also really hard. Really hard to not mess up, read too much into things, and seems so fragile at times. It’s hard not to try to fix friends lives when what they really need is an encounter with the living God. I can’t generate that, which is slightly frustrating. For years now I’ve wanted a magic wand to make life better for those around me. It’s hard knowing how much to try and help, to grasp the right words to say and when to say them. And dealing with the complex reality that sometimes saying words doesn’t help, sometimes they do, but working out when and where to say them is tricky.

I guess the only thing to do is to try and stop second guessing other peoples thoughts, trust in God to look after the work He has started and ask him for opportunities to help in sensible ways. The reality is, however hard I try, I am not God. I am not the centre of my friends lives. He is. But it’s hard to discern between the voices that want to support and be around for someone, and the pouring of support to give ME an indespensible role in someone else’s life. There must be some way of working out the difference?

Whatever I should be doing, or am getting wrong there is one thing I can do:

Lord, I put my mates into your hands, keep them going, strengthen and hold them in your care, help me be of use in their lives in a way that brings us all closer to you as our strength and refuge. Help me not want to be the centre of their existence but help me be a Good Friend. Help me not grasp them too tight, help me be honest and real and a lover of you first of all. Be their God and their hope. Help us all have grace with each other in your family. Let your story shape and transform ours. So we are free to love without manipulating or controlling. So we can be free from jealousy, envy and pride. Shape our fragile messy existences so that they reflect more of your beauty.

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A thought.

It occurs to me that life is a great deal more messy that we would like it to be. For example; when I think about being a Christian I would like a load of nice Christian clothes to wear, a perfect outward image to portray to the world of how Jesus has transformed me into a changed person, a person who always gets it right, who reacts in the right way to everyone, who loves well, who doesn’t get jealous or envious and well, you get the picture.

But the problem is this. That image is a lie, an invention of the shiny person I want to be. Jesus didn’t die so I could put on the outer clothes of looking like a Christian. He died so I could be in relationship with Him, so He could get on with the work of transforming the inside of me. But that is messy. I get things wrong, my transformation into the likeness of Christ isn’t happening overnight, sometimes I think I’m on hold, and then discover He was teaching me some other way of being more like Him through that experience.

He works in strange ways that don’t always fit into how I would transform me. I would do it overnight, in a Matrixesque way (downloaded into the brain, Neo somehow “knows Kung-fu”). I would make it easy for me to do what I was created to do- live and breathe and love well in a relationship with my maker and my fellow created beings around me. But He wants to transform me truly, so I learn dependence on Him, so I am broken away from my pride and self transformation programmes. He wants to build belief, faith, hope and love into my life. It’s a process of a lifetime. When I stumble and fall I see failure and rubbish. He sees another situation to teach me more of the patience and grace of Himself.

The book of Judges shows the ultimate in God working through the complete mess and stupidly and horrendous sin of His people. And that’s the same God who is at work within my messes and sin. He is at work redeeming the mess. I like that. But it doesn’t look neat or perfect, it looks flawed and messy. But I like it. It’s more beautiful and hopeful to the people around us to see; that we are not people who have the answers worked out, who have a plastic exterior which allows no space for mess, questions, confusion and pain. But that we have the hope of Another in that mess. One who works through the stories of our lives; weaving in and out of the mess, redemming it, forgiving, helping, disciplining and making something beautiful that we will get to see on the last day.

I want to live that life. Forget plastic Christianity. Forget false ideas, fake prayers and “good” exteriors. I want the messy inside out transformation. I want to know grace in the mess. I want to be real about the one who is in this world transforming and weaving His grace and truth in. I want to be like the one who walked around in the mess, I want to love as he did, to be real about the questions and doubts, to be real about my relationship with him. To speak honestly of the one who sometimes feels as close as a tender whisper in my ear, and sometimes as far away as the tops of the highest mountains. To speak of the reality of a relationship with one we can’t see. But to know that reality is what we are all about. That He is real. That He is in charge of this world. That He knows you and me. That He is looking over my shoulder as I write these words. And that He will not give up on what he has started.

Forget the plastic image. I want the earthy, dirty, shining through with light reality of the risen Christ in my life, and the lives of all I meet. I want to teach that way of living, rather than a set of rules, rather than polishing up the exterior of our lives. I want to teach and live out, express and breath the reality of Jesus here on earth, of a God who is in control and of a Spirit who is living within us, producing the fruit of our lives.

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Back for an evening

Back from the world of Team Days, good but oh so tiring. Blown away and ripped apart by Judges and the stupidity of the people God uses and the echoes of that in my heart. It feels very dark in there at the moment. That’s it. Ripped to shreds. Christmas day is upon us now in my house. Off to buy a chinese to sooth the raw edges and then hopefully meet up with the one who can do something about the darkness.

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