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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Three Good things…

Yesterday evening, I returned home and upon checking my twitter I found that one of our best friends had started a tweet about three good things. The idea was this – tweet your three good things from the previous day, which I did!

But, then I started to think of other things I could have put and as I did I realised I had more than three. Now my day had been a particularly good one but, it also reminded me of a line from an old hymn;

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

It is only when we stop and take account of our days do we realise what God has done in them. They may well have been stress filled nightmares, highly productive work days, or enjoyable time out but there is one constant in them all.

God has been in and with you in them.

He is in the every day moments we face through the good and the bad days (see one of my previous posts on Now is the time.. for more on this).

So I would encourage you this evening no matter how your day has gone to take the time and remember three good things and keep a note of them. Let us follow the words of Ecclesiastes 12:1  and remember our creator. Also, if you tweet please join us on #3goodthings

Be blessed in your days!

May we all be surprised by what the Lord has done in them!

Grace and Peace,

Steve

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Posted by on June 27, 2011 in God, Jesus

 

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Eastbourne Foodbank

For Eastbourne peeps…

Hello,

From time to time I’m going to share a few links from projects that are learning to follow Jesus and his words. Just recently I had a great conversation with a church leader about the role and work of the Eastbourne Foodbank project. It is a greatly needed project that needs support, donations and prayers. Some of the statistics are very sobering, especially as a parent about children and how many are living below the poverty line here in Eastbourne.

Check it out and see how you might get involved.

Grace and Peace

Steve

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Eastbourne, Mission, Prayer

 

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Now is the time…

Hello again,

We have just been on a little break as a family and therefore it may have seemed that the blog posts have dried up. But, fear not they shall return with rapid pace! You can find out some of our French adventure here at our friend’s blog :- http://www.uneviederemerciements.com/a-blundell-blessing

I am coming back to our liturgy adventure and was considering missing this passage as there didn’t seem much to construct a prayer out of.

But, my aim is to pray through the Gospel of John, so pray through the Gospel of John I will.

Here is the next passage;

John 1:24-28

(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, 27even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” 28These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

As I read this passage through and pondered it, there were some deep thoughtful points to bring out of it that I believe are fundamental to following Jesus. If following Jesus is to be real than it must be that! Real!

I was reminded of Genesis 28:16 which comes at the end of Jacob’s vision of the stairway from heaven which says this;

“Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD isin this place, and I did not know it.”

It seems from just these snippets of scripture that it then quite possible to miss Jesus. So, therefore we can miss him in the places we live, work, rest and play.

Now, the surest sign that you are awake is that you are aware of your surroundings. The surest sign that you are asleep is that you are not!

Profound hey! 😉

The Bible teaches that God is omnipresent (is everywhere, inhabiting everything) at all times. We cannot go anywhere where God is not (cf. Psalm 139). So, the question is: are we awake to the surrounding of God right now?

We look back at the past and we look to the future, but we do so from the now.

God is the God of Yesterday, Forever and Today (cf. Hebrews 13:8). The most important part of reality is that God is here in the now.

This to me then is paramount to our following Jesus and what salvation is all about. You may well have committed your life to Christ many years ago, but the only movement you have is this one.

It may help to think of it like this; just short of 7 years ago, I looked into wife’s beautiful eyes and promised my life to her. My promise didn’t give us a perfect, loving relationship. No, rather the life I promised to my wife is the life I live out every day, moment by moment.

The quality of our marriage is not based on the promise I made then, it’s based by how I live out the promise now. The same is true with us and our relationship with Christ. The important question is not, did I once surrender my life to Christ but am I surrendered to Christ now? The only life we have is the one we have now to surrender to Christ.

You may have said a prayer many years ago that started the process, which is great. But, this doesn’t give us a relationship with Christ, anymore than my promise to my wife makes a marriage.

Back in Jesus’ time, John is stating that the Messiah that they have been waiting for is not himself but that he will follow John and in fact is already there walking among them. Jesus was already there.

One of the key points that I am working through with my wife and our community at the moment is living in this understanding of now.

Trying to live out that God is here now, we do not have to go anywhere to find him, and we do not have to say things in a certain way or wear certain things to get his attention. He is interested in us, in our now moments and how we will react to him now. The past is just that – the past, how we reacted to God is gone, all we have is this moment, now.

Surely God is in this place. He is in the place where you are reading this. He stands with you.

You may like to take a moment now and acknowledge that God is with you in this moment.

I want to stay awake to Jesus’ presence with me – otherwise what is the point?

I want to live life knowing Jesus and getting to know him.

I want to know the one who stands amongst us when we gather (Matthew 18:20) and is also always with me (Matthew 28:20).

Now, is the only time we have.

So, with all that in mind here is the liturgy for this part of John,

Let me know your thoughts,

Grace and peace,

Steve

In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, I come.

Thank you for your presence with me in this moment,

Spirit, help me to stay aware of you in the everyday activities

May I take the time to stop,

To think and to give thanks.

Surely God is in this place

Surely God is interested in my now

Surely God is here waiting for me,

Thank you for your grace,

Thank you for your patience,

Jesus, be real to me this moment,

I surrender to you now,

Amen

 
 

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The Myth of the Wooden Spoon god

Here is a link to a very funny video, about a silly game involving a wooden spoon. Have a look and then come back and read on.

I would like to take a break from our Liturgy journey and look at where we get our picture of God from. So, we’ll start with a myth I have now come to call (following finding the prank clip) – the myth of the wooden spoon god.

The myth in it’s simplest of forms is this; that God has seen all of your life to date and is continuing to watch you go through life on the understanding that all is OK (just like the game in the clip), but is secretly waiting for the best time or your happiest moment to hit you with a wooden spoon to correct you for your past sins, previous life style, sexual preference, etc.  The myth takes various forms depending on how you have lived your life – but it always essentially comes down to this format.

Now, I do acknowledge that God can and does bring correction to us all, but I cannot see from scripture that God is telling us one thing while He is secretly planning to punish you for something you did x number of days/weeks/years ago. He often tells people that unless they repent he will do x, y or z, but it is never a secret thing.

Also, in my experience God rebukes me then and there or brings things to mind that I need to repent of – not “you failed to read your Bible six weeks ago, therefore your child won’t sleep tonight”. Now, I’m being silly – but essentially that is what we are saying when we buy into this picture of God.

God reveals himself throughout the Bible as Father, and as a father I would never dream of doing this to my child – so why do we assume this is how God operates? God is interested in refining our character to be more like Jesus and the correction always has that intention.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:8 that God is Love and in Romans 5:8 we are told that God demonstrates this love through Jesus’ death while we were still sinners.

Now, imagine if you will a scene. You go to the doctors and find out from the doctor that the test results are back. The doctors have found a tumour that is operable and should be removed easily. So you are booked in for a week Tuesday.

Tuesday comes around and you meet your surgeon and anaesthetist and they explain what is going to happen. You are sedated and the surgeon performs his job. You come too several hours later and are moved into recovery.

The surgeon comes to see you and you ask how you are doing and then He explains the surgery was the best he has ever done and has removed the tumour and you should be out in a few day and back to work within a month. Friends and relatives start to visit and ask after you,. To which you reply, “great, it’s all sorted and I will probably be home in a few days and back to work in a month”.

Now, let’s look at this story from a different angle. Did you ever see the tumour? Were you aware of the surgeon at work and did he show you the tumour once it was removed?

Nope.

On his word and his word alone, you have believed that he has operated and removed the tumour and that you will be back at work in a month.

How much more can we trust the word of a God of love?

Romans 3:4 says let God be true and every man a liar.

We have the truth in the word of God. We are told in the Gospel of John that Jesus is the word of God, not one of the words of God, the word of God. The Book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the express image of the Father. Not one of many images, the image. Jesus himself said if you see me, you see the Father (John 14:8-11).

Never once does Jesus come across someone who is sick or in pain or suffering and say “Sorry, it’s God punishing you for a sin you committed x number of years ago, nothing I can do!”. No, He reaches out with compassion, with love and with grace.

The love of the Father is shown in Jesus. Jesus died at the hands of those He came to save. He died for us while we were still sinners. So, I think it’s fair to say that if it doesn’t look like Jesus then it isn’t love!

So, over to you – what is your picture of God based on? And where do you get this picture?

There is far more that could be written and explored but see what you think and as always let me know your thoughts,

Grace and Peace,

Steve

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Preparing the way…

The next part of my liturgy journey reaches John 1:19-28, the story of John the Baptist.

The centre point of this story is actually the middle of this section of scripture. The Pharisees are desperate to know who John is and what he is doing.

He [John] said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

John understands his calling, his vision and purpose of his life.

To prepare the way for Jesus’ coming.

Making straight was a reference to what happend to the roads when a dignitary was passing a village. The villages would “make straight the road”, by filling in the divots and holes so that the dignitary can go about their journey as smoothly as possible. John was making the path for Jesus as straight as possible, to make his start as smooth as possible.

When I read this passage I went immediately to the Message translation of Philipians 4 which says this in verse 4 and 5,

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

This is what John is doing. He is celebrating God and making it clear to all that he meets that Jesus is about to arrive.

This is how I want to live.

Celebrating God in every moment that I have. Staying awake to His presence in every little job that I do. Living to make it as clear as possible to everyone that I know that I’m on their side and that Jesus is on His way.

Here’s the liturgy, I hope it spurs your prayers and inspires your adventures with Jesus. As always feel free to comment and let me know what you think and how you get on if you use the prayer.

Grace and Peace,

Steve

Father of all, we come to you in this moment.

Father of all, we come to you in this moment.

We respond to your presence with us.

We celebrate your goodness to us and remember your grace in our lives

We will live for your Glory and to tell the world that Jesus is coming back.

We will prepare the way for His coming; in our thoughts, our deeds and our actions.

We pray that we will live as spirit-filled blessings that share your love, grace and peace to all.

In Jesus’ Name

Amen

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