Sunday, 19 September 2010

Grapevine 2010 – Part 1

Sorry this is a bit late, with Grapevine being like 3 weeks ago and everything.
It was a great event, although admittedly I didn’t see much of it other than the Powerpack events (not that I’m complaining!); both the kids & the leaders meetings were awesome – way beyond my expectations... well, to be fair, I didn’t really have any expectations but it was still really good!

I’ve learnt (from being on the Powerpack team here and at Spring Harvest) that I *should* have expectations – I should be ready and waiting for God to move.
Turns out I had completely the wrong attitude, I’d been praying that the kids would have fun and that they would all get along when I should have claimed so much more for them in prayer – God promises in the Bible that his word won’t return to him empty (Isaiah 55 v 10 + 11), that means every time we pray with the kids and every time we speak about him, God will take that tiny seed that we’ve planted and reap a crop from it – it won’t go to waste. I should have held on to that promise, spoken it out and asked God to fulfil it. God can do so much more than we could ever imagine and he tells us to ask him to do mighty works but we don’t, we ask for little as if God has limits!

Anyway, I know I said I didn’t get to see much other than the Powerpack meetings (in comparison to what was available) but I did make it to a few things during the week: 3 seminars, 2 after hours sessions (LZ7 performing live plus a cheesy disco on the last night) and the brief family celebration (where Powerpack did a few segments on the last day). If I had just been to these and nothing else it would have felt worth it – I enjoyed them so much.

In the same way that 1 song really stood out for me at Forum last year (‘Almighty God’ by Tim Hughes) and therefore is now always known in my brain as ‘The Forum Anthem’ there were 2 songs that did the same for me at Grapevine – ‘Our God’ by Chris Tomlin and ‘You’ by Tim Hughes.

Finally I must admit that yes, I am a lemon because I (of course) forgot to bring the tent and seeing Beth’s face when I told her this was priceless (lol).
Part 2 coming soon!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Glory Circle - Bright Idea

A few days ago I was discussing Godly priorities in relation to Solomon building the temple before he built his palace (1st Kings chapters 6 & 7) as well as 1st Corinthians 10 verse 31 (whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God).
During this conversation I came up with the concept of a Glory Circle - I know it sounds a bit odd but it's essentially the opposite of a Vicious Circle.

I know a lot about Vicious Circles as I'm particularly talented at ending up in them - for those who don't know what they are they can also be referred to as a 'Catch 22'.
Two definitions I've found describe it as:
- one trouble that leads to another that aggravates the first
- a downward spiral of negative feedback where a trigger event starts a sequence of effects which continue to make the situation worse

An example of this is comfort eating because you feel fat – you feel unhappy so you eat to comfort yourself, eating makes you put on weight which make you unhappy which makes you eat more etc etc.

It’s it a Christian’s primary objective to Glorify God in all that they do (see 1 Cor. 10:31 above). We can’t do this on our own strength - we need God to help us.
The theory is, if we spend more time with God he will be glorified with our use of time and the more time we spend with him, the more he will change us to be more like Jesus which will also glorify him. If we are more like Jesus we will do things more like Jesus would do them and have a better, Godlier attitude to these things – again this glorifies God. Also, if we’re doing things like Jesus did this will include spending time with God and so the cycle starts again.

In the same way that vicious circles are easy (for me at least) to get into and difficult (and in some cases impossible) to get out of, Glory Circles are hard to get into (you need to make it a routine) and extremely easy to get out of (by simply skipping or forgetting part of the routine a couple of times).
They therefore require a lot of effort but as with any aspect of the Christian faith – the extra effort is worth it. I have keep coming back to this point, it's such a basic truth that goes against the ‘life is better when it’s easier’ ethos that the secular world promotes.

Friday, 17 September 2010

In yer FAITH!

“Is it true today, that when people pray, we'll see dead men rise, and the blind set free? Yes it's true and I believe it- I'm living for you!”



It's true that God, in his endless measures of power, can transform lives and it’s a great and wonderful thing to witness but I'm sad to say that most people calling themselves Christians these days don’t behave, speak or think any differently to non-Christians - I know I fitted into this category for years before really getting to know God and that it is possible for even the strongest Christian to ‘lose the glow’ from time to time.
I know I’m not a good representation of Christ – far from it most of the time and this upsets me more than anyone will ever know; I honestly wish my ungodly behaviour would upset be more than it does now, maybe then I would do more about it.

What upsets, or rather worries, me more than that even is the fact that too many others simply don’t care that the faith they claim to have isn’t apparent in their lives. I really don’t understand why there are so many apathetic people in church!
A Facebook friend recently posted a YouTube link to a sermon by Francis Chan called ‘Lukewarm and Loving it’ – it echoes the point I’m trying to make here, or maybe this is echoing it... either way...

You may have heard the saying: ‘If being a Christian was a crime, would there be enough evidence to convict you?’ – when I first heard it I thought it was a great way to think about it but I’ve been thinking about it more since then I do genuinely believe it’s possible to have all the evidence on display in your life (the catchy slogans, the little fish symbol on your car, worship music in your C.D. collection etc) and yet not be saved, after all, it’s not about the display- it’s about the heart attitude and the motive behind it. I believe this is backed up by Matthew chapter 7 verse 21 -23.

I don’t want people reading this to be completely discouraged, however, for there are a few people I’ve had the privilege of meeting that just have 'JESUS' written all over them - they are such a blessing and an encouragement to me and others.
I praise God for these people. Most of them I didn't know prior to their salvation so I can't really testify to how much they’ve changed.
What I can testify to, however, is God's transforming power in the life of 1 particular guy I went to High School with, back then he didn't know God and now the difference is phenomenal.
I’ve mentioned his music before on my general blog (link)...

I want this to be an encouragement to him and to the others to keep going for God.
I’m writing this to tell you that your faith inspires me to more faithful, to tell you that your small acts of kindness and wisdom don’t go un-noticed.
I'm not trying to build anybody’s ego here, I just want to praise God for what he’s done in the lives I’ve mentioned (implicitly or explicitly) as examples that point to God.

With this encouragement there comes a 2-part warning: firstly to be aware of the pride that often rides on the back on compliments and secondly, on the flipside of little blessings that don’t go un-noticed there can be tiny throw-away comments that each of us post online that can have a huge negative effect (like a ripple effect, they are often far reaching and we’ll probably never know where they end up). This part is as much of a reminder for myself as it is for anybody else reading this- too often I waste time complaining on Twitter when I should be full of praise, it’s an easy trap to fall into.

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on a fair bit now and I hope this all made sense, as always feel free to discuss in the comments below.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Recommendation: Open Bible Website

I first came across the 'Open Bible' website when Josh sent me a link to it while briefly discussing my post on Procrastination.
I believe it's a good resource, similar in some aspects to a concordance and I especially find the topical index aspect useful
As I said in my post on Procrastination, however, I don't think all of the verses it brings up on certain topics are completely relevant unless taken out of context but it's defiantly a good starting point and I plan to use it for a few of my future posts.

www.openbible.info

Impromptu Twitter Sermon

For those of you following me on Twitter, you may have noticed I went a tiny bit crazy with the amount of tweets I was churning out earlier. Just got inspired by a couple of Sermon-Jams on YouTube & GodTube and got carried away with thoughts of God and all his goodness.
For those who missed it I thought I'd piece it all together here as a single post as I believe it's a message worth hearing, not a message from myself but one from or inspired by God (you can judge this for yourselves).
As a side note, this sudden gush of Biblical based truth is refreshing change from the usual complaints and trivial things I put on there so hopefully there'll be more of it in the future... anyway, here it is:

"Brothers & Sisters, try not to become complacent about holiness and lost souls too often, or at all if that is possible... don't forget about what's really going on in the world because we're caught up on trivial things.
"The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Pulled Was Convincing the World He Didn't Exist" - Baudelaire
Never underestimate the Power of Prayer, it Works, it is not something Weak or Pointless, it's a Privilege! (www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GPgJniUQnY)
Living for God isn't a 1 time decision it's a constant day by day choice. We all wander from the path but it's our responsibility to notice we've got lost and ask God to help us back on track. Don't give up and think you'll get let off
It's so easy to be discouraged but when we do well it becomes so easy to fall into the trap of pride....
Following God sometimes feels like walking a tightrope - trying to achieve a balance between faith and works, there should be a healthy amount of both and you have to keep reminding yourself that works will never earn yourself a place in heaven yet still try to glorify God through works anyway.
I may be putting people off Christianity right now by speaking of how difficult it can be but the best things in life require effort...
If your main motive in being a "Christian" is that life will be easy then you're wasting your time.
It can take a while to sink in that it actually has nothing to do with any of us, being a Christian is all about God... never be fooled into thinking that's a bad thing...
To summarize: Living for Jesus isn't easy but it is most defiantly worth it!
...so give it your all. Never give up, keep getting back on the horse every-time you mess up and fall off. God will always help you if you let him but he won't do all the work, it's a partnership, a relationship - do it together.
God is AMAZING and he'll never be anything else. Doesn't that just make you feel like singing? Who wouldn't want such a majestic King?
I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to saying all there is about the almighty one and this makes me oddly happy, for he is of course indescribable! Reminds me of yet another glorious tangent --> www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE :)"

Here endeth the lesson

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Ellie's Psalm

So... I had a go at writing a Psalm:

Put a song in my heart oh Lord
Utter whispers from my lips
My words are not enough
No pride do I deserve
Yet there and here is it
God it is by you that I breathe

Don't let me forget God that without you there is no I nor would I ever wish it so
Father of the flock I beg that you lead
How often we stray!
Allow us to see our stupidity oh God
Let us not underestimate nor misrepresent your holy name
Thank you always, good and amazing Abba.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Learning to Lean

Throughout all the difficulties I've been facing throughout he past month (in particular) I'd like to take time out to express just how grateful I am to God for getting me this far and not leaving me to deal with it all myself. I feel he's teaching me a lot at this time and taking away everything I rely on so I can rely on him more.

I thought that once I moved back to Northern Ireland life would get easier but now it doesn't look like that will happen for a while and I'm sure that I'll stray from thinking about/thanking and leaning on God from time to time as that's part of human nature (just look at Israel during most of the old testament).

[The title of this post is a reference to a song by by John Stallings I learnt before going to England which speaks about learning to turn to Jesus with everything, regardless of circumstances -it seemed appropriate.]