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Thankful Tuesday…

What’s this?

Two posts on one day?

You betcha!

On January 1st when New Year’s resolutions were swirling round, I came across one status that simply said, “what thing(s) are you going to continue to do in 2012?”

Two things I will be continuing in 2012 will be blogging and staying thankful.

So, with that here are Tuesday’s Ten Thanks:

1 ) Christmas

A great time with Team Blunders, no major illnesses, fun times and quality time with family.

2 ) Work

Thankful for the work that I do and returning to work today.

3 ) Friends

Christmas has been a great opportunity for spending time with some of our closest friends, looking forward to more meals and more time with friends in 2012.

4 ) Slow Cookers

Mrs B and I were given a Slow Cooker for Christmas – already well up and running with soups, meat joints, spag bol and an awesome beef and Guinness pie. Looking forward to more!

5 ) New Furniture

We have been saving for a while and managed to grab ourselves some superb bargains for the lounge. I am loving my ‘reading’ chair and we have a three seater sofa on order. So, if you come and visit you’ll now have somewhere a little more comfortable to slit.

6 ) New Year

I used to hate New Year, never really sure why. But, this one was great.  Great company and great laughs as we watched Big Ben ring in the New Year.  Really looking forward to 2012 and all that God will do in it!

7 ) New Projects

I love a new project and this year promises some great opportunities to grow, learn and develop new skills and I’m looking forward to it.

8 ) YouVersion

I love the YouVersion app. Mrs B and I have undertaken this year to read the Bible together, we are going to use a wide selection of the reading plans and see how we get on. I’m sure the stuff we read will pop up in one or two blogs throughout the year.

9 ) Winter Night Shelter & Eastbourne Foodbank

We’ve been continuing to hear great stories from these projects over the Christmas period. We’re both thankful for their work and we’re both looking forward to being more involved with them in future months.

10 ) BlogBlunders Readers

Thank you to all of you for reading these posts. What started off as an experiment has grown into something that I love. As I continue to learn to follow Jesus, to learn to pray, I hope that I will become a more accomplished writer in the process and to see what God has in store in the future…

Grace and peace,

Steve

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Posted by on January 3, 2012 in God, Holy Spirit, Tuesday Thanks

 

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[RENT] One Song Glory…

 

Greetings from Blogblundersland,

Hope you are enjoying this advent season. The build up is in full swing and Christmas 2011 is well and truly upon us.

We are continuing our RENT series with the song, One Song Glory. You can have a listen here.

The song is sung by Roger and the themes and melodies from the song make their way into many of his other parts throughout the musical.

Roger has HIV/AIDS and seems throughout the musical to be doing well under treatment, but he knows he will soon die. He is searching for a way to live on beyond his choices – the one song to leave behind.

The verse I want to zoom in on is this one;

Find ,The One Song
Before The Virus Takes Hold
Glory, Like A Sunset
One Song, To Redeem This Empty Life

Roger is a man who thinks he has wasted opportunities, wasted the gift and therefore created an, ‘empty life’. Do you ever think like that? We can often think that we’ve missed that ‘one’ opportunity and now our life is forever on a different track and that is it – stuck on an empty track waiting for the end.

What if things were different?

What if life was a rich tapestry of opportunities and risks?

We have had many conversations over the last few months with our friends about God and our view of Him. If we have a view that is basically a god who sits upon high and dictates the future of our lives based on whether or not you take this one opportunity right now – then life is always going to be hard. But, if we take our picture of God from the revelation of Jesus, we get something very different. We start to see a God who is willing to get dirty, to dwell amongst his people, to move into their neighbourhoods – to eat, drink, laugh and cry with them. We also see a God who will go out of his way to offer us as many opportunities as possible to choose Him.

Over the past year, we have started to grow in our understanding that this moment is the only moment we have. It is how we choose to live this moment that it is important. The one opportunity to respond to God (or make a one off prayer) is replaced with myriad opportunities, with each second being as valuable as the previous.

Following Jesus therefore, moves from being a once in a life decision to a repeated decision made moment by moment. Do I choose to follow Jesus right now?

By its very nature, this thinking will mean that we will miss opportunities – we will be human and choose our own way. But, it will also free us to know that each day is filled with risk and adventure. Each day has choice. Each day, moment by moment is an opportunity for redemption.

Roger is searching for his redemption through the writing of one song that would live on beyond him. What he seeks is eternal.

What if we searched for redemption in Jesus, the eternal one? By this thinking, eternal life is no longer an added extra to following Jesus. No, we follow the one who is eternal and therefore our life is found in Jesus and him alone, that life is then eternal.

From this point of view there can never be such a thing as an empty life. Every life (no matter what has gone before) has the opportunity to respond to Jesus, every day is a new day for choosing Him and living with eternity in view. Every life has the choice for redemption. Even right now as you read this…no matter what has gone before.

As always let us know what you think and may we take this opportunity to bless you and hope that you have a great Christmas.

May you find Jesus.

Grace and Peace,

Mr and Mrs B

xxx

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2011 in God, Jesus, Myths about God, RENT

 

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RENT…

RENT

Hey y’all,

Welcome to the intro post to a new series on the musical RENT. You may well be thinking what on earth can be learnt from a musical? What would the musical RENT have to do with Jesus? Well this series is for you…

The three R’s

You have to be careful when you mention names in public, a wrong name here can lead to people switching off before you’ve begun.

The name Mark Driscoll can do just that.

While I would not agree with everything he’d say, I do think that Pastor Mark has added great value to the conversation about mission, biblical manhood, fatherhood, discipleship and leadership. Some of his hyperbolic statements have caused more than a little stir, but at heart I believe he is a man of great vision and has a great deal to say on mission and culture.

One of his returning teachings is that on current culture and how we process it as those who are learning to follow Jesus. His slide rule of Reject, Receive and Redeem is great when dealing with any part of culture and RENT seems like a great piece of art to see if he’s right…

What are the things that we as followers of Jesus need to reject? Not as many as you might think…but more on that in later posts.

What are the things that we as followers of Jesus need to receive and what do we learn from? A great deal…but more on that in a later post.

Finally, what are the themes that we look to redeem, what has kingdom value but needs a little theological tweaking?  You’ll have to wait and see on that one….but more on that…well you get the point… 😉

Future Posts & Guest Blogger

We will be looking at the musical and it’s themes through the lens of ten key songs (we could have done one for every song – but had to narrow it down!). We will be writing about the characters themselves, the themes the songs bring out and what we can learn from them.

You may have noticed that I have switched to using we, that’s because @MrsBlunders and I will be writing this new series together!

So, the ten songs;

1)      Seasons of Love

2)      Rent

3)      One Song Glory

4)      Life Support

5)      Out Tonight

6)      Santa Fe

7)      I’ll cover you

8)      La Vie Boheme A+B

9)      Without You

10)   Finale B

We will be posting every Thursday starting from next week (Thursday 24th November).

I (Steve) will also be returning to praying through the gospel of John each week, so look out for that one as well.

It is also worth noting that we will not be hijacking the musical and forcing biblical themes onto the songs. As we have listened, watched and sung these songs it is clear that they speak of real truth, real lives and real situations.

If (as we believe) God is real, than He must have something to say about these real themes and we believe He has done through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

We hope you join us on our journey through RENT, we hope that it helps you explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus and we hope that if anything in the past has put you off that this may be a restarting of your interest in Jesus.

So with that we’ll see you next Thursday as we delve into the musical RENT.

Grace and Peace,

Steve & Susie

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2011 in Community Living, God, Myths about God, RENT

 

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[Guest Post] Imitate…


Hello! Hope you all had a great weekend. Here we go with part two (you can find part one here if you missed it)

At the end of the last post I asked you to think about who your role models are, and who you imitate. I wonder what sort of people you came up with? For me, there’s a definite distinction between “I wish I could look more like this person/have their house/earn as much money as them” and “I really admire what I see in this person, and would love to get better at doing it myself”.

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you might have picked up subtle hints about my love for Cherry Healey. She is a funny, intelligent, gorgeous, well-dressed, insightful TV presenter making fantastic documentaries for BBC3, as well as raising her little girl. Poor Blunders has had to listen to me whine on more than one occasion “But I want to beeee Cherry!” Now, honestly, this is not true. If I were Cherry, yes I’d have better clothes, a lovely spilt-level London apartment, and a successful TV career, but I wouldn’t have my husband, or my brilliant two boys, or my friends and family, or beautiful sea views from my windows. If being Cherry meant leaving behind everything about my current life, I wouldn’t do it. No siree. Nor (and goodness me, I can’t believe I’m saying this) do I actually want to be Mrs Robbie Williams (I know, I shock myself!).

Nonetheless, I can recognise people of influence in my life who have characteristics that I want to imitate…examples to come, in a few paragraphs or so.

So, who should we imitate, and how?

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul was very clear about this;

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” Ephesians 5:1 (New King James version)

As Christians we are called to imitate God…which is a pretty steep challenge! But there are definitely strategies that can help us as we strive towards this. I read a fantastic blog about imitating Jesus (http://bluepointchurch.org/?p=205) that pointed me to this verse in Philippians:

 “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”Philippians 3:17 (English Standard version)

The blog author goes on to say this;

 “Let me paraphrase what Paul is trying to say here: You’re going to copy. You’re going to mimic someone’s steps and mirror someone’s movements. That’s how we roll as human beings. So if you’re going to imitate somebody, go ahead and imitate me. Follow me as I follow Jesus.”

So, for me, the first strategy we can employ when attempting to imitate Jesus, is to find people who are already doing it. Mr Blunders has shedloads more grace, patience and understanding for people than me. Gran B is the ultimate prayer warrior – who brings people, situations and problems before God as an automatic response. My sister in law is desperately passionate about working with and in her local community. My best friend is desperately loyal to her friends even when they treat her badly. A couple we know extravagantly bless people when they see a need. These are the people who I want to be more like, these are the characteristics that I want to imitate.

Secondly, our very wise friend Caroline raised the excellent point that when you are in close relationship with someone, you often imitate their behaviour without being totally aware of it. Spouses mirror facial expressions, housemates adopt each other’s accents (in my student house we had a fantastic mix of Midlands, Newcastle/Sunderland, Wales and Somerset!), best friends order the same food in a restaurant. When we spend a lot of time with someone, we often become more like them.

The Ephesians verse mentioned earlier reads like this in The Message translation;

“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behaviour from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love.” Ephesians 5: 1-2 (MSG)

I love that – keep company with God and learn a life of love. Having a deep, intimate relationship with God is the best way to imitate His behaviour. It’s learning by osmosis (what a brilliant word!).

In conclusion, I’d encourage you to imitate others from time to time. Look at their best habits, characteristics and behaviour. But more, strive to imitate Jesus whenever you can. It’s a tough call, but spending time with God will make it much easier. I know it’s something I need to get MUCH better at!

And remember, for each of us, there will be people (not just children) watching us, and looking up to us, and imitating our behaviour too. Let’s try to set the best example possible eh?

Big love

Mrs B

 

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[Guest Post] I wanna be like you…

Hello lovely people. It’s been a while…I have various half-finished blogs in my head but thought it was about time I got on with completing something! This collection of thoughts has been greatly expanded and enhanced by our lovely Life Group (a small group from church that meets midweek) who discussed the topic with me this week – thank you Blunders Life Group…you are the best!

Last week at church, we were talking about the characteristics of small children, and one that really stuck with me was ‘imitators’. Our elder son (EJ – nearly 4) is a proper copycat/parrot. So often we catch him doing or saying things that remind us of ourselves (or frequently, my mum!). Last week my brilliant sister gave birth to a lovely baby girl, who our boys met for the first time on Thursday. They were instantly besotted with her, and EJ is immensely proud of her – taking a photo into nursery to show all his friends. But as well as loving her and being proud of her, he has started imitating the actions of a new parent. He has named one of his toy giraffes after her, and now talks about putting her down to sleep, stroking her head, giving her cuddles and asking us to be quiet when she is resting. It reminded me of my friend’s little girl who ‘breastfed’ her dolly whilst her Mummy was feeding her baby sister.

Little children learn by copying, and seeing this behaviour in my son so obviously in recent days, it reminds me what a responsibilty we have to little ones – both our own and those that we interact with frequently – to model good behavior, positive relationships, respect for others, and everything else! I pray that my children imitate and learn the positive traits of Blunders and I…or things might get ugly!

But as I thought more about this concept of children as imitators I wondered – when do we grow out of that? Do we ever?

As teenagers we often imitate others to find acceptance and become part of the ‘in crowd’. At life group, Rachel shared that as a child/young person she never listened to pop music. Her parents only listened to classical music at home, which she loved. But when her friends began talking about songs and bands in the charts, she bought a ‘Now’ CD (or tape?!) and, through sheer dermination, listened to it and got to know the songs so that she could join in their conversations – despite the fact she hated every single song she heard! I’m sure we all have stories of doing things that we don’t like, or don’t agree with – imitating others to ensure we fit in.

I’m not sure this sort of behaviour is restricted to teenagers though. Have you ever just found yourself nodding along with an opinion you don’t agree with? Keeping quiet because you don’t know people very well, or because you know them so well that you don’t want to upset a friendship by arguing? Most of us at life group could think of times when we’ve done that.

So I reckon that to some extent, we remain imitators even in adulthood – but that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many of us have people in our lives who we especially look up to – a work colleague, friend, grandparent, church leader, mum in the playground, celebrity who inspires us. And in many ways I don’t think there is anything wrong in having a role model, and attempting to replicate the great stuff you see in them, in your own life. For me, it becomes problematic when you look at someone and think “I want to BE them”…and (speaking from personal experience) I think this can be unhealthy because it breeds dissatisfaction with your own life, the circumstances you are in and the person that you are.

So, provided that we don’t become totally obsessed, and place our role model on a pedestal, I suggest that imitating others can be a good thing. Of course – it all depends who you’re imitating!

I’m going to leave you for now – there will be more on this in a day or two – but have a think, who do you imitate? Why? I’ll be sharing some of my ‘role models’ in the next post, but I’d love to hear from you – as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments box below.

Big love

Mrs B

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Myths about God, Prayer

 

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Collect[ion]

Collection

Greetings y’all,

Hope you are having a great Monday – we at Living Stones have just started a 24/7 Prayer week. So, I thought I’d blog a little bit each day on prayer ideas, reflections from the prayer room and ideas for our own prayer lives. Today the theme is collects.

I have been using these prayers to help deepen my own prayer life and you may like to give it a try.

In the traditional liturgical service the collect is an opening prayer and looks something like this;

Let us pray;

A time of silence to be kept

God of constant mercy,
who sent your Son to save us:
remind us of your goodness,
increase your grace within us,
that our thankfulness may grow,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Taken from the 12th Sunday after Trinity

There are two main areas that I want to look at in this blog post that I hope will aid you in your prayer life. The first is the order the collect happens and then the second is the collect (Bold Text) itself.

1) The Order 

The collect can be broken into four parts – with each part reinforcing community and the importance of praying together in unity. Each part is important in giving the prayer meaning.

a) The Invitation

It seems quiet simple doesn’t it? Let us pray… but it is part of the whole prayer. The collect is about gathering (collecting) the thoughts of the community and praying together as a response to our individual prayers. Therefore the invitation is key, let us (the body of Christ) pray.

b) The Silence

This is the heart of the collect – it is in the silence that we pray, we collect our thoughts around the theme of that particular collect. We meditate on the scriptures the Holy Spirit brings to mind, we stay in the present – knowing we are loved by God. Silence is so important to our prayer lives and I feel we often underestimate it and its importance.

c) The Collect

The collect is then said as a bringing together or summation of the individual prayers prayer. In the traditional liturgy the leader will say the prayer as a way of articulating the silent prayers of the church. But, we are finding it works equally well when said together as a community.

d) The Amen

The community responds with a AMEN – so be it. We have prayed individual and now we agree with this prayer together.

The collect is not so much vein repetition but carefully thought out reflection and response. Which actually builds in time for the work of the Holy Spirit and for us to respond as a community, not hinder it.

2) The Collect 

So, we have looked at the part of the service where the collect would be. Let’s have a look at how they are constructed and this has been incredibly freeing in my own prayer life and I hope it will be in yours.

a) Address

This is simply who we are speaking to, in our example God is address as “God of constant mercy”

b) An attribute, quality of God or something He has doen

This generally is linked in with the theme of the collect, in our example above we read, “who sent your Son to save us: 

c) The petition

What we are asking of God. “remind us of your goodness, increase your grace within us”

d) The reason or expected result

Why we want that prayer to be answered. “that our thankfulness may grow”

e) Conclusion

The Christ centred conclusion, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

f) Amen

As it says! So be it!

So, there is a brief overview of Collects.

They are important in our times of corporate prayer as I have said already. But, I am also finding great use in jotting down my own collect style prayers as part of my prayer time. They help shape our focus, they help remind us of who God is, they help us think what we are actually asking for and why we want it. As a result my times of prayer have become more refined, more fruitful as my mind wanders less.

They also lead to more content-filled prayers – we think a little, speak less but with more purpose and wait on God more. I for one am all for that.

I am also finding that they are helping in the constant prayer as well. As I am staying mindful of Jesus, praying for the people I meet or in the same coffee shop as me, my prayers are fed from my collected thoughts on that subject. I am praying God’s blessing on them knowing that we serve and follow a God who is rich in mercy and is for us not against us.

My encouragement to you would be to give it a go, write a collect and maybe even share it with your community this week. You know what is going on in your community – try to put that into a prayer that collects your thoughts and bring it as a corporate offering.

Grace and peace,

Steve

Here are two of mine, see what you think;

Heavenly Father, Seer of all, our protector and our shield. Grant that we will walk rooted and built up in Christ, that we may our lives with thanksgiving in our hearts. In the name of Jesus our risen saviour.

Amen

Faithful Father, Full of grace and mercy. We ask that your peace would rule in our hearts that we may be faithful in our witness of you, through Christ our Lord and Saviour

Amen

Some more examples of the Collect can be found here.

 

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Rise and Shine [Part 2]…

Greetings,

Friday came and went!

But here are a few ideas to further the conversation on re-presenting Jesus.

@MrsBlunders and I have had many conversations over the recent months of things that we would like do, what we want to do and what God may be calling us to do. Some of these may never be done, some will be developed over the next few years.

We have decided that we want to live in the expectancy of what God is doing now and let that spill over into the future. We are trying to live as if those things were in place now – we are living in the now. We don’t want to keep saying, “we’ll do that when….”. There are certain things that are money dependant – like decorating, but there are a whole heap of things that are not. We were waiting for the ‘quieter day’.

We have realised that the quieter day will probably never come! We have to be wise and strategic in what we decided to do, but we must do things now.

On a personal note, I feel God is calling me in a certain direction and has asked me to raise my game and live like I was doing that calling already. This has involved giving certain things up, selling a few things and devoting time to study of and reading God’s word.

So to part two of Rise and Shine; 6 ideas to try re-presenting Jesus to all we meet.Some of these suggestions we are experimenting with and some we have not done yet, but see which one strikes you and let us join together in re-presenting Jesus.

1) Pray for those near you

When you are next in a coffee shop or some other public place and you have a few extra moments, pray for those who are around you. Pray God’s blessing on them, pray for followers of Jesus to come in to contact with them that day and ask God if you need to say something.

2) Give you place to someone in a hurry

If you are not in a rush, let the person who obviously is in a rush go before you – bless them at the same time.

3) Say ‘thank you’ more often

Find opportunities to thank people you know and do not know. Leave your friends thank you notes, send an email thanking someone for there service on a Sunday or just for being a friend.

4) Catch your child doing something good

I recently read ’60 minute Father’ by Rob Parsons (I highly recommend it to all Dads) and one of the main points that I came away from the book was the importance of catching your children doing something good and praising them for it. I’m working on this everyday, especially in the morning when I’m on go slow! 😉

5) Join in with #3goodthings on Twitter and Facebook

We have a great window through Twitter and Facebook to show what following Jesus is all about. We can give thanks for what God is doing in our lives as well as being real and saying that life is hard. We re-present that  following Jesus is not an immediate fix to all our problems, but a real relationship with a real God who loves us.

6) Invite more people round for meals more often

We love food and we love our friends. We are trying to combine the two when we can. Who could you invite for a meal in the next few weeks?

So there you go a few insights into how we are trying to re-present Jesus. Can I encourage you to look at what are you doing and what you can do to re-present Jesus to all that you meet?

Let me know your thoughts,

Grace and peace,

Steve

Almighty One,

All power, majesty and glory are yours!

We ask that you would strengthen and equip us,

that we may be faithful in our witness of re-presenting you,

through Christ our Lord and Saviour

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in God, Gospel of John, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Mission, Prayer

 

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