Sunday, 31 October 2010

My Hypocrisy...

I was reading through my recent posts when I realised how 2 of them (In Yer Faith & Work in Progress) contradict each-other, I thought I would point out the hypocrisy before someone else beats me to it...

I say firstly that ‘What upsets/worries me more than being a bad representation of Christ is the fact that too many others simply don’t care that the faith they claim to have isn’t apparent in their lives’ (slight paraphrase) while 3 posts later I state that “I... live an unfaithful sham of a life often without noticing or... without caring”

As I stated at the time - “I honestly wish my ungodly behaviour would upset be more than it does now, maybe then I would do more about it” and what I mean by this is that although I may not care about misrepresenting God all the time I care about the fact that I don’t care – I know it sounds stupid but my apathy really does upset me (ironically).
I often ask God to help me be less apathetic about sin but the fact that I ask that must mean that I care a little bit to begin with.

The other element at work here is the fact that I often don’t realise that the faults that irritate me so much in others and therefore the ones I complain most about are indeed the exact same flaws that are very much apparent in my own character - that’s plank in eye syndrome right there! (See Matthew 7 verses 1 – 5 if you didn’t get the reference)

In conclusion, I can be a huge hypocrite sometimes and for that I’m sorry. The first step to changing this is being aware of it so if and when I slip back into it feel free to point out my mistake and I’ll try not to be too immature about realising I’m wrong (again).

Friday, 22 October 2010

Grapevine 2010 – Part 3

(Part 1- Click Here : Part 2- Click Here)

This part is more personal in nature than the other 2; it’s about what God spoke to me personally about during the event.

I’ve always had big problems forgiving myself for things and not letting go of regrets.
While serving with the Powerpack team at Spring Harvest I declared that “I am free from the past in Jesus name” but it’s never that simple – was a good first step though; I need to keep declaring it and keep meaning it for such a declaration without sincerity is pointless.

During a time of praise and worship for the Powerpack leaders at Grapevine one of the other helpers told me she felt God wanted me to know there had been a “shift in my lift” for the better that day. While I still don’t know the full implications of this I trust in it and pray that I won’t do anything to shift back as it were.

I felt God telling me to take things “one day at a time” – something I keep thinking about every time I get overcome with the task ahead or get over-excited by potential opportunities, when either of these two things occur I tend to be so busy focusing on them to actually do anything about them.
Taking things ‘one day at a time’ also works on the level of letting go – it won’t be easy for me to do and therefore will must become a daily decision.

The story of Lot’s wife also came into my head at this time, she was told not to look back at her town being destroyed. She loved the town despite it being utterly sinful, it was a good thing that she was leaving but she wanted to stay (i.e. not move on/forward); she was warned not to look back and when she did she lost her life. This may be a drastic comparison in that I don’t believe I’m going to fall down dead if I don’t let go of past mistakes soon but I do believe it’s a warning that if I don’t move forward and stop looking back I’m not going to enjoy or take full advantage of the rest of my life and it’ll be my own fault.

One of the many cool things about God is that he speaks to you on your own level - in the same way that he spoke to shepherds using sheep analogies he speaks to me (not exclusively) through music/song lyrics as I usually pay particular attention to them and often ponder on their meaning.
While feeling God telling me to take things one day at a time I had the song (of the same title by Jeremy Camp) accompany it in my head. In addition to this, the lyrics of a Hillsong song also came to mind with regards to what God was teaching me: “I will soar with you, your spirit leads me on, in the power of your love” – these words mean a lot to me and make me so thankful.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

The Bible in a Library – Just a Thought

I once had the question “which part of a library would you put the Bible in?” put to me and it’s actually a very clever thought because the Bible isn’t a regular book and as such it can’t be categorised easily i.e. parts are historical, parts are prophesy, parts are poetry.

It includes genealogy information, geographical information, wisdom and songs.
It speaks on a whole range of topics from sex to money to sheep to idols to work to love and even death with a whole heap of others in between (part of the reason it is still relevant to today)

Now, you may be reading this as a non-Christian and be thinking right about now that you would put the Bible in the fiction category but if you are indeed thinking this I would like to point out that both Christian and non-Christian historians alike have validated aspects of the historical content by correlating details in Bible to that of other documents and relics etc.

Grapevine 2010 - Part 2

The theme of the Powerpack meetings that we were to ‘get across’ to the kids was ‘You’re kingdom come’ – a reference from the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6 verse 10).
There was a big focus on prayer – to pray for God’s kingdom to be on earth the same way that it is in heaven for example, there is no sickness in heaven so we encouraged the kids to pray for healing.

This focus on prayer gave me a passion for it that I’ve never felt before but sadly I feel like I’ve lost that passion since. Though I know I will get it back, by praying for it (ironically)...

The kids really impressed me; their willingness to get involved and their enthusiasm were a great blessing. Despite being there to try and teach them I found at many points during the weekend that I was learning just as much as they were.

What impressed me most were the kids that chose to do a kind of preaching workshop in which they put together a mini sermon based on what they felt God was speaking to them about.
Although not many kids chose this workshop I would say it was one of my favourite to hear about at the end. God was really working through the kids – the words they spoke seemed so wise to be coming from an 8/9 year old. One thing that particularly stuck in my mind was a little girl that preached “Don’t look where you fell, look where you tripped” – such a great concept! To put it in other words – don’t focus on where you fail, focus on the cause of the failure.

Another great concept that I came across in one of the seminars was “don’t focus on the tick boxes when you should be looking to the cross” - it’s so easy to get distracted from the really important things by fulfilling a lot of tasks that ‘the world’ would have you believe make you successful such as having a nice house, an expensive car etc.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Work in Progress

I’ve been feeling challenged lately, about something I thought I’d set right in my head 2 and a half years ago when I came back to Northern Ireland for the summer after my first year at university and then again at the end of Summer 2009 at Forum (UCCF event).
It turns out that it’s not as simple as ‘setting it right in my head’ one time and being sorted for life but a long term conscious choice that I have to keep making – I knew this at the time but appear to have forgotten.

It’s a fundamental part of being a Christian that never really clicked before that day and it appears that I’ve strayed away from it again since then.
What I’ve taking about is giving your life for God – all of it, not just parts.

I’ve always reminded people that not everyone claiming to be a Christian is one and also that even Christians make mistakes but while these are both true I must admit I’ve used them as a bit of a cop-out when asked why those claiming to follow Christ clearing aren’t doing so.
The truth is I do it all the time – live an unfaithful sham of a life - often without noticing or dare I say it, without caring.
The realisation struck me hard just the other week when my friend called me a ‘half hearted Christian’ and I had no basis on which to defend myself – she was right and I was blissfully unaware.
It’s true that no one really knows what your relationship is like with God apart from you and God but how we live our lives give away pretty big clues.

More than a few times I’ve judged others for doing just that. It was wrong of me and I regret it.

There’s a quote at the beginning of the D.C. Talk’s song ‘What if I Stumble’ which says:
"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."

I’ve heard it so many times and nodded along in agreement but that’s me right there – the cause of atheism. I’ve got a lot to answer for and I praise God that he has more than enough Grace for me (provided I turn from my sin again – and keep turning from it).

Christians have a responsibility that has serious consequences (Micah 3 verse 9 – 12)
As God’s Children we are representing the king and I honestly am finding that concept hard to grasp right now; Kinda goes over my head a bit.

Right now I feel bogged down with guilt but I know that won’t get me anywhere. Something I’ve learnt is that God doesn’t deal in guilt he deals in conviction and repentance.

Some of you may know that I got ‘The Growth Award’ at a Christian Union event a couple of years ago but no-one knows that I actually tried to give it back afterwards. I felt I didn’t deserve it but I see now that it wasn’t just about me, it was marking the fact that God had made a difference in my life and to refuse it would be like saying that he hadn’t done a wonderful thing for me.
I thought at the time that it represented being a Godly woman but in fact it marks the first couple of steps in that journey.

It was a similar situation when I was about to be baptised; They day before I was having doubts, not about the fact that I trusted God and wanted the world to know but about being able to live up to the consequences of that – trying to follow God without faltering while the world watches.
The reason I went through with it is because it was the right thing to do, it was what God wanted, what he commanded and he knew when told his followers to get baptised what we’d be like and that we’d never be worthy enough. Praise God that I don’t have to have to be perfect I just have to strive for perfection – it sounds odd when put like that but I believe it’s all about your (or rather my) heart attitude and motives.

I’m currently reading a (Christian) book called ‘The Me I Want to Be’ and it talks about God shaping people in different ways because they are different. I guess some people are wise enough to know how to avoid mistakes but I generally learn the hard way, each heartbreaking mistake at a time.