Sunday, 16 December 2012


In my last post, I shared a well known bible verse. And I think that it is possibly one of my favourite bible verses. But a verse that is definitely one of my favourites is from Ecclesiastes:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
        a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

I love this passage for a number of reasons. Mainly because it reminds me when I am impatient, when I am wondering why, that there are reasons. And I constantly need that reminder, because I am constantly wondering why I am waiting!

And that isn't just waiting for a train to turn up, because ultimately that will happen. Even if it is late, or not the one you were planning on getting, a train will turn up. It is almost a given.

But there are some things that you can't be so sure about. I once said to someone I was prepared to wait. But now, as time has moved on, it gets harder and harder to stick by that statement. I'm not so happy about waiting now. I'm getting impatient, because I don't want to wait.

Advent is all about waiting. Waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus. But we also look at Advent as a time of preparation. Preparing for Christmas. As we wait, we prepare.

Although I don't want to wait anymore, I have to remember that there is a time for everything. There is a time to prepare and a time to sit back and enjoy the benefit of all those preparations. So I don't want to wait anymore, but it is time to prepare and the more preparations the better the celebrations.

No I don't like waiting, it needs to hurry up. But there is a time for everything!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Love is...

Most people are familiar with that bit in the bible that says what love is. That 'bit in the bible' is from 1 Corinthians 13

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails."

Experience teaches us about life, it helps us make our own decisions. It helps us to decide what we believe, and how we live our lives. I love this passage from 1 Corinthians because I know it all to be true.

Love is patient. Love doesn't mind waiting, because it knows it will eventually triumph. Because love is understanding, it knows that at times you'll forget that love is there. But because it is patient, it'll be there when we remember. Love is something is always there, just waiting to be introduced. And it'll wait for that introduction till kingdom come!

Love is kind. Love is at the heart of every kind word, every smile. Because if you love someone, you cannot hurt them because it hurts you too. Because kindness and smiles are the easiest way to show love.

Love isn't envious. Love is for everyone. And there is enough love that everyone can experience it. Envy is our human greed wanting more than our fair share. Envy is the human nature to be selfish, and the desire to have something that someone else has. But everyone has love, so there is no need for love to be envious.

Love does not boast. We all share love. How can love boast it has something better, because love has everything and everyone.

Love is not proud. Pride tempts us to forget love. Pride suggests we have done a good job, but loving never stops.

Love honours. Love doesn't make people feel bad, it gives us a spring in our step. It makes sure our feelings are upheld, and that everyone is equal. It understands our traditions and works with them. It also challenges people who discriminate.

Love is not selfish. Love makes us think how others are feeling. Love is for others, not ourselves. Love makes us consider how we make other people feel, it makes us want to make them feel good. Sometimes that means sacrificing something ourselves.

Love is not angered easily. Love is calm, love helps us to forgive. Love makes us more accepting of things. And because love is not selfish, it means we are less likely to get angry.

Love doesn't keep track. We all make mistakes, and love knows that. But it doesn't matter. Love just wants us to feel good. It picks us up and holds our hands in those times of mistakes, temptations and trials. Love doesn't remember the last time, because it doesn't matter.

Love rejoices with truth. Love isn't evil, love is joyful. Love is truthful. Love makes us do things properly and respectfully with honour. Love rejoices!

Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. That is just what love makes us do. Protect those we love, trust them, hope they will have the best possible, and it is always there no matter what. Persevering through everything. Shining bright.

Love never fails. We will always have love. It will always be with us. Experience tells me this. Experience tells me all of this.

But I can never talk about love, without remembering 1 John 4:19 "We love because he first loved us." Love is a God given gift. Love is a God given talent, and is showing love, we offer that gift back to God for his work. And that work will show in our relationships. His work will be done through our love.

Whether that be love for our friends, family, wife or husband,
boyfriend or girlfriend, or even for our pet goldfish. God is working through it!

I've thought a lot about love lately. In fact I've stressed a lot about it lately. I've been left wondering why God didn't give an instruction book with this gift. It would be really useful right now! But love manifests itself differently in different people, so I guess it would be a massive undertaking, and frankly I'm sure God is too busy!

Love is complicated, love doesn't make sense. It makes me do silly things, and makes my brain hurt. But I know I wouldn't live without love.

I know I wouldn't live without you...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Fast thinking

There is another thing you should know about me - I can procrastinate like there is no tomorrow. If I don't want to do something, I can find an excuse to not do it. That excuse can be very good, or a little more tedious.

Why do I tell you this? Well one of my biggest distractions is social media. It is all too easy to keep checking it, and adding to it. Waiting for new items to be posted, waiting to get stuck into debates. When really I should be doing something much more important.

So last weekend I did something different.

In my Christian upbringing, fasting has not been a common thing. My youth group took part in a couple of 24 hour famines for charity. But that is the closest I got. We filled our time with fun and fellowship, and not very much sleep I seem to remember.

The point of fasting, is to give something up to concentrate on something else, something better. Now admittedly I chose a good weekend to do it, because I was away with a Duke of Edinburgh's Award group in the Peak District. However, I decided that I needed to spend some time thinking. So I gave up social media for the weekend. Twitter and Facebook were off limits until Monday morning.

Now, it was an easy weekend because I was so busy anyway, that there wouldn't have been much time for social media. But it was a good experience. It got me thinking. Which is what it was meant to do, so I guess it was a success.

But it has given me the taste for it now. Thinking about what I don't need to clutter my life with. To give me enough space to live the life I should be living. The weekend gave me space to think about what was important, and what was just there to keep me from the important things.

Yes, when Monday morning came around I was catching up on Facebook and Twitter happenings. But I survived a weekend without them. I managed to do what I needed to do, without the distraction. Fasting isn't just about not eating, and using that time for something else. Fasting is about giving something up that you don't need, and using time more effectively.

I saw social media as something I didn't need, and I used the time I would have spent on it, thinking and praying. What other things can we live without? How much better and clearer would our lives be if we used that time for God's will to be done, or to just spend that time with God, and people who mean so much to us.

In today's world it is too easy to get distracted. What can you give up, to increase your focus on living God's life?

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Trust in risk?

There are a couple of things you should know about me. Firstly, I really really dislike hypocrites. And secondly I'm much more likely to do the opposite of what you tell me, just because I can! (Slight disclaimer, in certain situations!)

When you take that second characteristic, it can be a bit worrying. But it can also lead to some really quite fun and exciting times. When I feel like rebelling against what someone has said I feel alive, and excited. Its wonderful. I also feel like God is guiding me in those times, to make sure I'm doing the right thing.

It is a time to be spontaneous, when I can let my mind wonder into the land of imagination, that I usually just let my mind dip it's toe into. It is in moments like this that I come up with mad ideas like blindfolding a whole congregation, and getting them to play Pictionary with someone describing what is being drawn.

Some may see this idea as completely usual, maybe even tame. But at my church's traditional 9am service, it could be interesting. I will let you know how it goes! It is when I let my mind wonder, almost in rage at being confined by someone, that I am at my most risky.

A third thing to know about me, I usually play it safe. I sit and observe something, work out how it works, how I fit in with it. And then I'll jump into it and immerse myself completely in it. But when I let my mind go to the imagination land, I throw caution to the wind and say "Sod the world! If that is what I want to do, I'll do it." I'm pretty sure this will get me into trouble at sometime. But this is where risk comes in. I just do it, without thinking. Or sometimes I do it, with a lot of thinking. Usually thinking about how out of joint it will put someone. (Not to say I do it out of spite)

Sometimes I think we need to throw caution to the wind and take a bit of risk. Don't sit and watch, stand and do. Risk something, and if it doesn't work out, you'll have had fun trying! Risk is good. It doesn't matter if you don't know how things will work out, because you'll know what happens when you do it.

And then comes hypocrisy. I know right now I should be taking a couple of risks rather than playing it safe. I should be starting a couple of conversations, and in all honesty I don't know what the outcome of them will be. I know what I want the outcome to be though.

I say all this stuff about taking risk, but I only take a risk when it suits me. When it is probably going to be quite safe to take a risk. If I could peer into a crystal ball (other future revealers are available, but this is a commonly used illustration) and know how things would turn out, I would. And then I'd start my conversations. Or not as the case may be.

But it has made me think more about the risks we take in life. Not only in our personal lives, but in our Church life, you didn't expect me to leave God out of this did you?! So often at Church we play it safe, we do it how we've always done it. When actually we need a trip to imagination land (I'm quite liking the sound of this now!) where the sky is less than the limit.

What risks should we be taking, but aren't? Maybe it is starting that project, or talking to someone, or saying Yes to something. The futures absolutely petrifies me. You never know what is around the corner. But you never know what you might miss. Yes, the future is scary, but now is even scarier because you are actually doing it! Lets risk leaving the future to sort itself out, and have fun whilst we live the now.

Anyway, it's boring knowing what is coming up!

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

What language do you speak?

Sorry if this is a little ranty, just something I'm working out

This week I read the first World Methodist Youth and Young Adult Devotional. It was written by Christy-Anna Errington, current Youth and Young adult committee chair, and ex Methodist Church in Great Britain Youth President. Christy-Anna talks about her experiences of using translators at a conference.

This sparks a call to think about the language we use in our churches. Its something I'm very concious of, trying to be as inclusive as possible, using language that is truly open to everyone. But our Christian living should go further than just our language.

Often, the language we use isn't just words. It is our actions too. Its the way we do things, the way we present ourselves. Apparently most of our face to face communication is non verbal. So how does the church communicate with the people?

Sometimes I think we don't quite hit the mark. We wonder why our numbers are falling, and then I look at events, groups and sessions that are put on by my church and it is no wonder. They are only at a time for people who don't have 'standard' work hours. We have meetings at a time that, before I had to travel 2 hours to get home from work, were difficult for me to get to after work.

I wonder if the church remembers that there are people with lives outside the church. It is little things, like being surprised that when someone phones me at 10am during the week I can't answer my phone because I'm at work. I make no secret that I'm sold out to the church. But it makes me wonder what people who aren't think about the church.

So here is my challenge, think about how we communicate with people as a church. Think particularly about those people who are trying to fit church into their life. Remember, there is a life outside the church. And think about how we reach those people who have a life outside the church.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The phone is ringing...

I'm not going to jump on the Clegg bandwagon and apologise for not blogging in a while. Instead I shall simply say I've got a new job, and have been very busy.

In truth, I've had a number of ideas for a blog, just none of them made it onto the screen. In fact, this blog is now on its 3rd rewrite! And I guess that just goes to show me how much I need to write this down. Whether for my benefit, or yours. I'm guessing at the former!

For those who follow me on twitter, you may have seen a question I put out on Saturday night - "Judas, good guy or bad?". This question was sparked by a late night conversation with a friend. The conversation was started by us seeing Jesus Christ Superstar. Incidentally a very good show, and well worth seeing. It raised some pretty interesting other questions for me too.

Back to this conversation though. It was with an undecided Christian. I say undecided, as he wouldn't say he is Christian, but is very willing to come to church, and often asks what I deem to be searching questions. I tried not to let our discussion surrounding the show get too theological. Partly because I don't class myself as a great theologian, and the show is not designed to do that.

However, I got to talking about the role of Judas, and how we as The Church view and portray him. Jesus Christ Superstar heavily uses Judas, and it got me thinking about his life, and his role in Jesus' life. If we look at what he did, we all say how bad it was that Judas betrayed Jesus, to death on a cross. But that looks at one very small part of the story.

When we look at the bigger picture, we know that Jesus comes to save the world. We know that Judas betrays Jesus to death on the cross. But we also know that 3 days later, Jesus rose from the dead, and then ascended into heaven, to sit at the right hand of God for us. In death, Jesus conquered death. As the great hymn says "Death has lost its sting".

But it cannot have been easy for Judas to do this. That is how I saw it portrayed on stage anyway. And I can't find any reason to believe that Judas found it easy. However, I accept that someone had to betray Jesus. And God gave that calling to Judas.

I don't think any calling is easy. God stretches us, moves us out of our comfort zone. But he is always there equipping us, and holding our hand. But when God calls us, do we answer there and then? Sometimes it feels like I'm not in control, and I want to be in control, so I wait for a time when I do feel in control. Or I decide that its not the right time. Or I think I might just be deciding when the right time is, and then something gets in the way.

I'm finding it too easy to run away at the moment. God knows why. I just wish he'd share it with me! Sometimes, in fact probably most of the time, we know, we just need it affirming. And when I don't have constant affirmation, I start to panic. And then panic leads to doubt. And that means that just as I'm reaching to pick up the phone, I accidentally hit the reject button. And then I don't listen to the voicemail for a while.

Calling is not an easy thing. Sometimes we just need reassurance that we are treading, or about to tread, the right path. But always know, that God is walking beside you.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Because of our human nature we often have our own expectations when we see something, or hear something. It is one of the things we always get told as young people not to do, bow down to stereotypes. But do we carry this teaching into adult life? Do we realise how many obstacles we put in our own, and other people's, way by expecting the expected?

The thoughts behind these words started a few weeks ago as I sat in the vestry at the church I was about to lead worship in. I was their quite early, and I was going over my sermon notes. I don't really like working in quiet, so it was nice to hear people going about their business before church. It was a good reminder of why I was there. Yet this was to be short lived. The steward quickly silenced people in the corridor, because I was in the vestry and he didn't want to disturb me. The same steward removed coat hangers from the back of the vestry door because they made too much noise. Now some people like silence, and I'm all for it at the right times.

At the same church, someone came up to me at the end and said they had had a really good time. They had enjoyed church. I was thinking this was a really good thing, and congratulating myself on this. But then this lady went on to say, "But you shouldn't enjoy chapel, should you?" This took me a back slightly. I left the church worrying about them. This particular church is very Methodist, complete with Wesley bust and pews.

Whereas I do call myself Methodist, I do struggle with Methodism sometimes. Maybe it is the whole of the established church, but we are slow on the up take. We are thought to all sit in uncomfortable wooden pews, sing boring long songs which don't make any sense and the same thing happens each week. And some of the time we conform to it. But so often, it would benefit us not to!

I led our shoppers service recently. This is a 15 minute service on a Friday morning. It's great because you can easily play around with things. I did it on pray, and ended up with the Lord's Prayer to finish everything. Someone said it was great to have things in a different order, it makes you think.

So how much would we stop, think and realise if we did things really differently? I love the dreams young people have, because they aren't inhibited by practicalities. On Sunday, one of the young people at youth group suggested having a tree house church. It was great to dream with them. This dream came from an observation that it is easier for one of our leaders to worship in a warehouse type building. A blank canvass. Something that doesn't look like a church.

So what expectations do we live into? Which ones should we surprise people be dropping by the wayside?

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Starting out

I went to London today. I went on the train. I tell you this, because to get to London on the train I have to go past Gatwick Airport. And when I say go past, the train line is right at the end of the runway. Like aeroplanes a few feet above the train at the end of the runway. I've already confessed (somewhere) my love of airports. They are full of expectation and hope, and whenever I go past Gatwick on the train I feel that even from the train.

Leaving aside all the environmental stuff, what a better way to start a journey than in an aeroplane. I think this because of the runway, and take-off. I particularly like runways in the dark, or like today, dim light because the lights just shine. They show the way to planes coming and going at the airport. Everything is controlled, and carefully monitored to make sure it all goes without a hitch.

Airports in particular remind me how exciting starting a new journey is. How much faith we need to put in people around us. Going past Gatwick today reminded me that it is only about 7 weeks until I will be there with a large group of people heading to Mombasa to work in a school out there. We'll be working with Friends of the Mombasa Children. I'm really excited to be heading back and seeing my African friends, and helping out in the school, and it's development. But I'm also really excited because I am taking a couple of really close friends, and I can't wait to show them why I love Kenya, and share some wonderful experiences with them.

However, one of my friends revealed to me recently that she doesn't really like flying. My instant reaction was, "You do know its a 10 hour flight to Kenya right!?". I was a little concerned! What had I let myself in for?! I wonder how my friend feels when she flies, and how much of a test of faith flying is. As with most things, I take it all in my stride so I haven't ever really stopped to think about it.

It turns out that my friend just doesn't really like the take-off and landing. I think these are the best bits. I love the exhilaration as you are pinned back into your seat and feel the engines fire and send you speeding along the runway into the sky. I also love the ground rushing up to meet you, feeling the wheels touch down. I like to think of new journeys in my life being like an aeroplane taking off, a step of faith, engines on full throttle, pinned back, exhilarating as you speed off into the unknown with friends around you offering comfort and support.

This is certainly what the start of my most recent journey feels like. I've been putting it off for ages, and I finally got round to firing up the engines to do pre flight checks (to really draw this analogy out). I'm not sure where its going to take me, but I'm glad of the support of my friends and family as I feel my way through this. Searching for the lights at the end of the runway, showing me the way.