Thursday, 28 October 2010

When did you last step in to help?

Every so often at school a huge shout would erupt as a fight broke out. Hoards would encircle; even if the two lads didn't want to carry on, they'd no longer have a choice because of the hungry audience that had gathered. Never once did I step in. I used to love it as much as anyone. It was thrilling; assuming you weren't the underdog.

Read this excerpt from the gospel of Matthew and see how it makes you feel.

'Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.'

Well? Heartbreaking or no impact? Maybe it stops you in your tracks or maybe you skipped to this paragraph without even bothering to finish that last one. If these words don't kick you in the crotch then what about this:

When did you last stab a mate in the back? Watch porn? Belittle someone intentionally? Get wasted? Cheat? Or maybe squander your money on worthless things. The list could go on and on.

It's very easy to take the words of that passage very lightly. But all too often the 'Roman Guard' attitude catches us off-guard and we join in with those mockers and scoffers en route to Calvary. It's easy to join the crowd of spectators without even really realising it.

Re-read it and rethink your life's position on this. It's kind of a big deal.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I'm lost in wonder...

I've been lucky enough to get away for a few nights of camping in Devon. Yes, I was well aware that it was October. It's madness, I know, but it was a much needed break from what has been a seriously hectic half-term. Births, deaths and marriages have quite literally been the bread to a sandwich already jam packed with fillings, so it was refreshing to have some time away with some good friends.

Layered up to the eyeballs to fend off the freezing temperatures, I probably shouldn't have strayed so far from the stove and sleeping bag, but each night as I took a stroll outside, I was greeted with a cloudless sky overlooking the valley. Mouth open and head back, I couldn't quite fully take in the night sky above me. I love city living, don't get me wrong, but there isn't the same night sky as there is out there. Hundreds of thousands of street lights probably don't help that. Sirens instead of owl song.

But there I was, gawping like some country bumpkin in my wellies; star gazing. I couldn't help but wonder how the heck someone could doubt the existence of God. Thousands upon thousands of stars spread across that black expanse. And infinitely more await those visible from down here.

In a casual remark at the start of the Bible, the writer says: He also made the stars. (Genesis 1v16)

Don't let the hustle and bustle of urban life get the better of you. Take a trip to countryside once in a while and get lost in wonder.

When was the last time you took a step back and let your mind race at the sheer size and magnitude of this all? Because the same hands that flung those stars into space like glitter, hold the intricacies of your everyday life with as much love as well.

Step back. Look up. Wait.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

2 Corinthians 4 v16-18

'Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.' (New International Version)

'So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.' (The Message)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Real men cry in church

I was speaking with a good friend last night. Earlier yesterday, I had seen him getting prayed for during our church meeting, with tears rolling down his face. A scene that I didn't want to leave without remarking on. He later commented that it was the first time he had cried for some time.

I was pretty clear with how I responded. I told him I was so glad to see him cry! It was so good to see it. Not because I'm some sick weirdo, but because I could see the Holy Spirit doing some serious work in his heart. He could have proudly stood there receiving some prayer, chest out, shoulders back, proud as anything. But that's not what Jesus wants. The world is completely filled with people who think they've got it all sussed. They walk seemingly filled with composure and self-assurance as the beautiful message of Jesus' gospel waits patiently for them to crack and realise it. But my friend didn't look like one of those people. He looked liked someone who had understood, and understood it pretty hard. Why else would a grown man stand in front of hundreds of people and cry his eyes out? Because the Holy Spirit was at work; remoulding him, sharpening him, and making him to be a little bit more like Jesus.

'Jesus wept.'

The shortest verse in the Bible. Don't be the kinda person who's too proud not to get broken by the work of Jesus. He was broken for it on our behalf. And He was the most bold and courageous of any man after all.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

'I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. "He will rule them with an iron sceptre." He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.' (from the Bible; Revelation 19 v11-16)

Doesn't sound much like the blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus most people think of does it?

Friday, 8 October 2010

"It was very good. 5-stars" - God, The Creator

'First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.' Genesis 1v1 (The Message)

I was chatting to a mate last night. He isn't a Christian, but we were engaging in a light discussion about Creation. While it is a topic I am reasonably secure in my knowledge of, it isn't a subject I get too hung up upon either. He was asking me whether I thought God created all of this in 6 literal days; whether it was 6 periods of time; how Christians explain fossils millions of years old..and so on and so forth.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn't give full and precise answers. But one thing I have always felt secure in, is the relationship I have with Jesus. It is built upon a solid foundation that doesn't bring into dispute the who's the why's and the when's of this all. I see His hand upon all of creation and I believe His mark runs through every being like a stick of rock. It's all about a heart knowledge and not just a head knowledge. I am very content in the understanding that there is nothing created that will ever fathom the depths and riches of what God did and continues to do. Science does OK, but only serves to show us a little bit more carefully or awe-inspiringly how great God's creation is. A telescope shows another billion galaxies we didn't know were out there. A microscope reveals with a bit more clarity the intricacy of a human cell. And their search continues again.

Do I think science disproves God? Not at all. It helps show how amazing His creation really is.

To quote my friend last night: 'To be fair, if you can create the Earth in the first place, you could definitely do it in six days if you wanted to.'

Snowflakes, Elephants, The Mariana trench. Don't lose your wonder at it all just because the world tells you an answer is needed for everything. Some things we will just never being able to comprehend.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

I was cooking dinner for some people this evening. Two of them said they had never been too keen on mushrooms, so I agreed to leave them out of the meal. It got me wondering though. How many people assume they still don't like mushrooms, just because they ate them in their youth, decided they weren't 'mushroom-people', and then resolved never to touch them again for as long as they lived!?! Probably loads of people, I reckon.

Well. How many people got told there was no God when they were children? How many atheistic parents talked down any of the truth of who Jesus was or what He accomplished? How much negativity towards the Bible, God, the cross, Heaven and Christian community is passed down from generation to generation and is imprinted on young hearts before they can even weigh it for themselves?

Maybe you hated mushrooms as a child?!
Maybe it's about time you forgot hand-me-down grievances towards Jesus and gave Him a chance in your adulthood!?!