Shadow Of Love

The White Cup, the red heart, is perhaps one of those cute images of romance. Yet for some people the reality is a mere shadow of what was promised. I hope your valentines day lived up to the image you had in your mind.

Sometimes faith can be like that, the smiling people at church, the over joyful minister can sometimes hide a hidden reality. That life with or with out God can sometimes be a shadow of what might of been promised.

When those promises seem to have been broken we might want to walk away, or perhaps we stop trusting as much in God or people in general.

So when you hear stuff from the front of church, ask yourself did Jesus really say that? Fact check what you are hearing, discern if what you are listening too is in fact alternative facts!

Jesus never said all would be healed, or all would have incredible lives. He didn’t say it would not be hard at times. He did say he would be with you until the end of the age, that in him we can be fed, in him we can know life in all its fullness.

Perhaps I have become skeletal in my grand old age of 42, but as a people we need to be as wise as serpents and as gentle as doves, so that we can avoid the traps set by the cunningness of man. so that we keep travelling authentically with Jesus, that is sustaining, forgiving, loving and joyful.

 

Introducing GLC Photography

Since a member of church kindly lent me their DSLR back in October 2016, I have fallen in love with photography again. I still like my smart phone camera but it can’t hold a candle to the quality you get with a DSLR. Sorry Iphone but you’re still useful in other ways.

My internal monologue pushes me to seek perfection, however elusive that might be,  and it is no different with photography. It offers me a purer form of creativity that my writing doesn’t always offer me. Capturing that moment, recording incredible beauty fills me with joy, and I want to share the love.

So www.glcphotography.co.uk is born, It is a place for my best photos so feel free to take a look, as well consider purchasing them as prints, physical or download, canvases photo books etc, downloads are 99p. I take photos across six categories Animals, Urban, NatureSeasonal, Faith and Stock. All products are shipped through Loxley Colour which is based in Glasgow.

 

So the blog godlifechurch has expanded to include glcphotography they are kindred spirits, of creativity that keep me sane in the dual pressures of life and ministry. Enjoy and please share.

 

 

 

 

 

Fresh Starts and New Beginnings

2016 was a great year for my blog in some ways. In other ways it highlighted for me the tension between weekly blogging and full-time ministry which can be pretty incompatible at times!

So we find ourselves in February of 2017 with my love of blogging intact coupled wth my new enthusiasm for photography.

This year brings some changes. Firstly I have refreshed my blog which can now be accessed at http://www.godlifechurch.wordpress.com or at the original URL http://www.godlifechurch.me,  as well as facebook. The Blogging has branched out into photography as well and I am proud to introduce to you my new photography portfolio www.glcphotography.co.uk, where you can browse the gallery or purchase quality photography based products from the UK based Print Studio.

My hope for this year that I will find a better rhythm for my creative pursuits, blogging a few times a month and taking photographs as well as space for God family and church. I am excited to see what 2017 has in store and hope you enjoy the changes to my two sites and the new journey we are now on.

Nearly There With New Site.

*updated

Dear reader, Over the past few months I have been restructuring.My priorities working for the church puts a lot of  pressure on having time to do things like photography, and blogging.

Last year I had 3499 views which is my best year yet. However you may have noticed a lack of posts for a few months now as the pressure of my non-digital life has increased. So blogging wise I will try a different routine of at least two posts a month focused on godlifechurch.wordpress.com. Along with that this blog will become part of a photography portfolio. Where you can also browse or purchase cards, prints, and other items from inspiring and iconic images.

I hope to go live by the end of Feb 2017, please be patient and i hope you will be pleased with the outcome. cheers- Andy

A Question Of Perspective

The Bible tells us in Lukes Gospel that Mary has a baby who is the saviour of the world. Luke communicates the fantastical happenings around the birth. In this story, there is little room for doubt at what God is doing in the lives of this holy moment. Whether you are a shepherd, wise man, or a fly on the wall, there is little doubt that God has brought this crowd together, for a special moment.

Something is going on, something is happening, there is an unfolding of Gods plan here. At least that is who the passage is read. I wonder how do you meet this narrative, what is your perspective?

How do you view this moment? What is your perspective or view point here? Literal, allegory, story? How does this story affect your life?

 

 

Faith When it’s Subzero

Freezing Highland cow

 

 

 

 

 

 

December is here, this Highland cow was shot in subzero temperatures. It is standing in the sun thawing out after a long cold night, and he doesn’t look too impressed at having his picture taken. A reminder perhaps that in life so often, and behind the beauty of this shot as been a long cold and dark ni

A reminder perhaps that in life so often,  as in behind the beauty of this shot, life takes hard work. But it’s worth it to keep going, the sun always rises.

Prayer: God keep us going when the nights are long and cold that we may bask in your beautiful light. Amen

 

 

 

Were Has Jesus Gone?

When we listen to what’s happening in Syria, when we listen to the news stories of mayhem, shattered lives, broken people, communities and nations, you may well ask where is Jesus?  In the midst of church decline, gossip and back biting, we may ask where is Jesus?

The lyrics to the popular christian chorus, I’ve Found Jesus… I love this song, its an old chorus from my teenage years, that brings back memories of when I became a christian back in 1992!

Just for fun you might like to google the where’s Jesus book, its a cheesy version of where’s Wally!

We need to find the Jesus who is more real than words on the pages of Scripture, who is more then the one who raised the dead, healed the sick and rose again on the third day. We need to find a Jesus that is perhaps bigger than our religious proclamations from the pulpit.

For so many where is Jesus is not even a question that occurs to them! Jesus is some renegade from mythical times. Where is Jesus? Who cares, people today have a enough to think about, worry about and to be concerned about. For so many Jesus, never raised their dead, healed their sick, and probably didn’t raise from the dead. That may be the sentiment of people in church as well as outside.

If the church can’t find Jesus, then how can we expect others to find him, know him, listen to him. Perhaps a conversation and journey with the community needs to look at the historical Jesus, leaving to an up-to-date real living experience of Jesus. John Wesley would say of his discipleship groups that you could not tell a testimony, any longer than a week.

So how are you being in communication with Jesus this week?  How have you listened and what have you heard? Certainly the conversation is multifaceted, one of hearing with the spirit and heart as well as with the head, but that doesn’t make it any less real and living.

As we go about our business this week, as we encounter all that life has for us in the days to come,  where do we find Jesus?  From the warm comfort of church worship, to the hardest days where all it seems to do his rain trouble down on you, where do you find Jesus?

If we are really serious about this relationship with Jesus being real and living, let it be more than soundbites and glib phrases. Lets journey with the idea that it is living and real. Listen once again to the stories of Jesus in scripture, and look for what God might be doing in your life and the lives of others. Encounter Jesus in your own discipleship and walk, as well as through the kindness, grace and love of others.

So when we look at the broken world around us, it might not seem so broken, we as a church might hear with fresh understanding, Jesus calling out to us, to go, to be, to do. To become the body of Christ that feeds the least of these, because they’re feeding Jesus, that comforts the most broken because we’re comforting Jesus, who bring healing to hopeless situations, because in doing so like so many actions we might conceive, we are doing it to and for Jesus.

Have a good week.

Is Your Church Changing To Much?

Working with a range of ages, from the very young to the very old, it is interesting how attitudes to  new things change.

For children change is part of their existence and indeed survival, as they are propelled towards adulthood. They are constantly growing, developing physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Whether that’s losing teeth, growing out of shoes, taking on new responsibilities such as making themselves a cup of tea or walking to school.  Change for children can be nerve-wracking but also confidence building, as they are enabled to take increasing control of their lives so that they’re ready for adulthood!

Yet as adults some of us have slipped towards resisting change more than others whereas some of us are always excited by change, for others it breeds uncertainty and anxiety.

So we cling on to what we know, what we understand about God and church. Finding it difficult to be open to the possibility of thinking or doing differently. We may quote scripture that says God does not change. Certainly his love never changes for us, but God does not build a wall around his kingdom. It is an open gate, a low fence easily stepped over, there is welcome and fellowship for all who come, whoever you are and regardless of where you been.

God doesn’t change in all of the right ways, but steps into our journey, allowing us to change to become more like him, to see things differently to what they are.

Let’s not build walls around our hearts and churches, walls that keep everything just as it is on the other side. That protect those inside, from the ticking clock of time, so that everything remains just as they remembered it or just as it was when they first encountered Jesus.

Instead let us walk alongside the other, the outcast, those that don’t yet come.  Allow ourselves to be changed by that relationship in a way that allows us to speak the things of God into their reality. So we can build the kingdom, at their feet, rather than those of our own. In that way faith in the God who is and was and will always be can find new fertile soil in which to grow and flourish and become what the church needs to become and begin to look like.

I do not know what the church will look like in 20 years, but it needs to look different than it does now, for now we don’t see full churches, for now conversations about faith are rare. That needs to change. Perhaps today allow yourself to remove the walls around your heart and your church and allow the light to enter in, that we might have new vision and a new awareness of where God is leading us.

Listening For God in your Life

When considering what God wants you to do, how you might be used to further the Kingdom of God, we must think about listening to God.  It may seem obvious and perhaps it is at first glance, but listening to anyone is a challenge at times. it takes attentiveness, quietness as well as speaking.

People have been listening to God for centuries and God seems to tell people all kinds of things, from the deranged to inspired and all the shades in between. Understanding how God speaks and what God might say is important for us to have perspective on the nature and personality of the one we follow.

If for a moment we step back from the stories in scripture and instead look at the vista, the overview of what it tells us, what do we see? We see a big picture of God’s action in various kinds of interaction with people?  With you and I? There are some things about being in and outside God’s kingdom.  There is a need to share the message, to all, believer or not, there is a need to liberate humanity and challenge oppression.

So when we are acting on Gods command in what ways does that offer hope, liberation, and challenge? Or perhaps in the words of Jesus, how does what we hear lead us to love our neighbour more?

When we are tuning into God’s broadcast, let’s fact check it, so that there is more of God and less of us, less of our agenda.  If when we walk with God we think He agrees with us 90% of the time, it may be time to check how well we are listening.

When we listen to people, being attentive is so important, it enhances the back and forth of the conversation, it shows we care about their opinion. It is too easy for our heavenly communications to become one sided.

When we speak to God let’s take the time to be attentive to what we might be listening too, not just to fact check, but listen in a way that deepens our walk with God and ultimately increases our faith in God.

So how we listen is important.  I expect God sounds different to all of us, perhaps he sounds like a man, women or child. How God sounds is influenced also by how we view God, either as a friend or benevolent dictator.  Our image of God affects how we listen. In the same way, I listen to a policeman differently than that of my own child or my wife.  (Though she may question if I listen at all lol!)

We know that God is omnipresent, in every moment, where you are is a moment of potential interaction with God, a point of communication. God may communicate to you audibly, or situationally, or in a myriad of ways. Let us be open in our conversations with God for God to speak to us in whatever way works.  That means we hear properly what he is calling us towards when we are unfiltered by our agenda.

The Church Isn’t In Decline

The church is not in decline if you are talking about evangelical, modern churches such as the vineyard network and some fresh expressions of church, though some would say they are just benefiting from the shift away from traditional church structures.

Facing the truthfulness of church decline is tough, and not at all pleasant. It causes us to wonder about Gods faithfulness, and even our own sense of call is brought into question. Articles around church decline can make for pretty depressing reading.

I tell a story sometimes in church about a boy, a sand pit and a rock. In the boy’s sand pit there is a big rock, which the little boy doesn’t want. So the boy tries to get rid of the rock, he shoves it in every way imaginable, but it doesn’t move. Finally after some time, he sits defeated, the rock is still there. The boys chin wobbles a little and then big tears begin rolling down his cheeks.

His Dad had been watching to this point and runs over picks up his son and hugs him close. The little boy tries to explain through tearful gasps what he was trying to do, and his dad replies:

“You didn’t use all your strength.”

his son responds, telling his dad how hard he tried. His dad gently replies, “you didn’t use me.”

The Church is in decline, and we can’t find the solutions alone, like the kid in the sandpit, who had to face the reality he needed help. The sooner we face our reality, the sooner we can do something about it. The church in the uk numerically is in a free fall at the moment and has been for years, the  collective numbers of decline hides where growth is happening, and it is in scattered places. Mid weeks, messy churches and such are proving that there is still an appetite for spiritual engagement in our country.

“Cancer patient who chose road trip over chemotherapy dies aged 91” 39164c3800000578-0-image-a-87_1475583459836

Like Norma Bauerschmidt we need to be brave, we need to at some level accept the reality of our situation and then be willing to do something about it. She made the best of her situation by going out into the world. We must do the same, rather than retreating into our enclaves, huddled together waiting for the inevitable, now is the time to listen to God anew, learn from others and grow.

If we know of churches who are experiencing growth numerically and spiritually. Why not put our pride to one side and take the time to learn from them. We must see such places not as threats against our survival, but rather, as places of teaching and learning. That we might draw into our own context, wisdom and fresh focus. Such places become like teaching hospitals, helping us serve the living God and the needs of others.

There is of course the chance it is time for some congregations to reform as something new. I have been involved in leading two such communities. The building might have gone, but the worshipers didn’t. The structures of that church life, might have passed into history, but God leading his people hasn’t. There has been and will be still more to experience and do in the will of God, wherever the Lord has moved you too.

Be brave, as God calls us to new places or new ways of being church together. Be brave, acknowledging or own desire to hold on tightly to the comfort blanket of the past, instead rejoicing in what was, we step into what is new. Holding the hand of our heavenly parent who was, who is and who will always be.

The Church maybe in decline, may our efforts cause it to slow and turn around. Not because we love church but because we are listening and loving God, who doesn’t leave, or disappoint.

Lets get to it.

%d bloggers like this: