Tag Archives: love

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.

 

The Church That Serves

When we think of social services, hospitals and schools we may well think that the government came up with the idea. Yet They weren’t first to the game, not by some way.

By 580 AD the church had a system for circulating consumables to the poor: associated with each parish was a diaconium or office of the deacon. Monasteries also often served as comprehensive social service agencies, acting as hospitals, homes for the aged, orphanages, and travellers’ aid stations.

In fact, all major religions impacted its society in similar ways wherever it found itself on the globe. As societies developed, because of better health care and education provided by faith-filled believers, wider society took up the burden of this work, modernising it and in some way taking it to the next level.

The western world not developing this until the mid 19 century nearly 2000 years after the Christian church at least, had been serving the poor and providing care and help on a wide scale.

Today, the church might lament sometimes a lack of social services for the spiritual needs as well as social, emotional and physical but it doesn’t mean our engagement has lessened our impact. It has re-engaged with workplace chaplains, with churches collecting for charities giving generously of its time and money to ventures such as food banks, clothing banks, credit unions and so on and so forth.

We should learn from our historical mistakes, but feel proud of the legacy we have begun in the country for people. A legacy that means people are healthier and better educated because of people willing to serve and whose driving principles was Jesus teaching about the value of others, and in that people came to know christ.

We continue as the body of the church, to serve the needs as we find them. Let’s never forget our calling in that regard, that at the heart of who and what we are as church, is summed up beautifully in Matthew’s gospel chapter 25: 31-46

‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me’….

However lets also not forget the verses after in verse 45 of chapter 25:

‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

A chilling warning to us ever forgetting the calling Jesus has for us, echoed more softly in the parable of the good samaritan!

As church communities let us be encouraged by what we have achieved, but not complacent to think it’s perfect or that we are done. I fear we think we don’t have a place in these areas anymore that somehow we are not welcome.

Perhaps that is true for some, but for most, I believe and I have witnessed myself that the door is very much open to the great great great great great… great grandparent of social work. We lend a hand and helping once more alongside others, so that together we help those who are, hungry, thirsty, shivering, sick and those in prison and many, many more.

As the church of Christ, our fruitfulness is because the action of the holy Spirit in our lives. Whose intention is always to bless others and through us remind them of a narrative. A narrative that is so vast and yet so personal of a God who knows, loves and longs for us to flourish whether they realise it’s his call or not.

Together as surgeons and doctors and nurses and social workers, teachers… we are the church and have more to say than just about the spiritual things of life. May the church live out its vibrant Godly focus in all its diversity and richness. Not focusing on one aspect of church ministry or life, but truly embodying diversity as we engage our world.

One passing question, what part of society will you or I look back on in the next 50 years or so and say, we enabled that to happen, not for our glory but God’s?

Starting Over With God

There are moments for all of us when we need to, metaphorically speaking, press our restart button. This might be because of the day we have had, a decision we have made or something that has been done in our name or to us.

When we press restart on our tablet or computer the logo of its maker appears briefly as it boots into its operating system. As a person, I wonder what the logo in your reboot procedure looks like when you press restart

Mine is the cross like the in the image above. In amongst the chaos of a day littered around me and in the business of life I came to the Holy Cross Chapel to pray.

To restart for me at least, the cross is where I rebuild from, recognising my need for Christ’s love, hope and above all grace-filled forgiveness.

As you restart, wherever you are and in whatever way is helpful, may my God be with you and made known to you.

God bless. Andy

Get Your Faith Lift Here!

Has your faith become sanitised, tame, lukewarm? Is church ‘run of the mill’, no more challenging than what you might pick for breakfast in the morning? The video below that reminds us otherwise; the sheer challenge of the gospel, the agony of the early mission leaders to choose Jesus every single time.

Today in ISIS held land Christians are facing the kind of hate these early missionaries experienced. And just see what God does with that. The story is based a long time ago, but it could be a story and narrative that happens today. Not in our comfortable, westernised lives perhaps, but where people live in fear from those who would have them killed for their faith, this story is real and relevant.

Be warned, the story in this video is not for the faith hearted!

Finally, what does your faith mean to you?  How far would you go?  What would you give up for the sake of the gospel?  As you listen to the words, the story alongside blows you away.

1 Step Towards a Healthier You

There is nothing quite like that first waft of chocolate hitting the nostrils when you open the Easter egg box. Each of us has our own rituals, I’m sure.  I like to take all of my eggs and break them up in a tub so that for the days to come I have a lucky dip of chocolate delights.

Let me explain the step we need to take to become healthier Whilst eating your easter egg. Easter, perhaps more than any other point in the year, offers us the opportunity for a fresh start, to take hold of our health in a new way.
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New Year Resolutions 101

Change can be a weird thing, it can cause us anxiety and stress and also be exciting and exhilarating. I often feel the challenge to make new years resolutions, but this year, I was inspired by a Facebook post that suggested to its reader, that it would be a good idea instead to not make resolutions, on the grounds simply that we don’t need the pressure!

There is a lot of wisdom in not over burdening yourself, in not piling on the pressure. Its well known and documented that such pressure over time leads to bad health not forgetting along the way, some level of social and familial isolation.

Perhaps rather than making resolutions that are unattainable, sit down by yourself and prayerfully consider if there is anything in your schedule  that can be culled. Alongside that consider what is it that has helped you be the person the Lord is calling you to be more consistently like, and spend time this year investing in those things.

It can be good to aim at something, to set a goal, with achievable steps. However equally freedom can be found in, not setting yourself yet another action point, or another thing to remind yourself off that you haven’t quite done yet.

So I guess you know what is best for you, trust your instinct and in a God who has led you so far and loved and loves you regardless of goal setting or not. Nothing can ever separate us from his love, heights, depths, resolutions, sin, untidiness, poverty or riches.

Finally to the observant you will notice that their have been some changes in design to the blog and along with that I will post occasional pictures and videos along with the regular post content. I felt that I needed to change things up a little and hope you appreciate it.

See you next week and happy new year

Last Post: Hope Round The Corner

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And Angel Pops By

Hope Round The Corner – 2016

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Whatever hopes and aspirations you might strive for in 2016, or past failures you lament. Know that the way is always open for you to meet a God who loves you and knows you. That same God who forgives and sits with you in your lament, but brightens your hopes, which are found routed in Christ’s will for your life. Even if you can’t see around the corner, trust that the Lord knows whats there.

God Bless and Happy New Year

Outing Myself

I don’t know if I was born this way, or if it was the environment. Either way people have looked at me as different. Others have perceived as less somehow, there was a word for what I am, but when I was a kid it wasn’t I widely used.

The badge I wear, is not one I revel in or openly address. In the church, I have not always found acceptance, instead sadly the opposite has at times been true. I know God loves me, but for some reason, he has allowed me to be this way and wants me to serve him all the same!

My name is Andy and  I am dyslexic, the written word is  somewhat a challenge to me, I find it almost laughable that, despite a significant weakness I feel called to the written word, I would love to be an author some day. It is well documented that the dyslexic brain is wired differently apparently and there is nothing I can do, but live with it.

Interestingly we also say that the homosexual brain, is wired differently just as I am with dyslexia, yet my brain chemistry will not lead be to be dammed by others or God, or excluded from other places and churches.

My brain chemistry won’t lead me to be ridiculed, bullied, abused. My brain chemistry won’t mean I struggle with identity and theological opposing arguments, that tear my sense of self to shreds. None of those things will be my experience. Of course though some would say it’s the act of homosexuality not the homosexual that people have issue with.

To that I offer an illustration. I and we don’t have two brains, just one. What i mean is that when I write a sentence my non-dyslexic brain doesn’t assert itself, because its not there! In the action of writing  I can’t always write in perfect sentences with grammar and correct spelling, unless of course the computer helps me, and sometimes it even struggles with what I am trying to articulate. In those moments, I use google search and my dictation software. Putting it simply it is impossible for me to be dyslexic and not act dyslexic. How then can we ask our homosexual kin to change their ‘wiring,’ if that was even possible.

I believe God is bigger than all of this, that his grace is sufficient and his love brings justice, not reproach. Not for the few chosen ones who love him, but for all people that love him. I struggle with what Scripture says, and can’t unpick the cultural, moral bias, and human fallibility from what God is saying in and through scripture. It just isn’t all that clear to me.

However one thing is clear, the world is watching how we treat on another in Gods name, and on this issue to name one, what the world too often sees is shameful. It doesn’t come close to how jesus defines the christian, that definition being, ” They shall be known by their love for on another.” (John 13:35)

Last Post: Beautiful To Me

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Hatred Is Our Enemy not Religion.

The anger was a searing heat in my heart, and plagued my thoughts constantly with thoughts of revenge. It didn’t completely consume me and thankfully it didn’t lead me to do something I would later regret. However for sometime it was a huge challenge and internal struggle.

Eventually my faith’s emphasis on God’s love in Jesus as well as some good friends, chipped away at my molten encrusted heart and the searing heat of hatred was slowly extinguished. Forgiveness and grace took up their rightful place once again in my life. Perhaps that sounds a bit too easy, but it really wasn’t. When someone or something makes you feel that way it is never easy to move beyond the intensity of that emotion, that ensnares you in the dungeon of its desire.

I am not the only one on the planet who has experienced differing degrees of hate, either towards others, ourselves or perhaps we have been the victim of hate.

Maybe we have seen up close the political or religious rhetoric that really is just hate dressed up in a language that seams reasonable at first, however eventually we discover the predator underneath the language that sounded so logical and perhaps even comforting.

The group of Egyptian Coptic christians beheaded by Isis, are the latest in the growing number, of the many ethnic and religious groups murdered by hate dressed up as religion.

In retaliation Egypt bombed Isis, I am not sure what choice Egypt had to act any differently. My fear is that however, tit for tat, and eye for an eye, just breeds and justifies more hatred, it doesn’t disperse its searing heat.

Behind such ideologies, hatred breeds, contaminating the mind and will, turning people into monsters, the kinds of people in nightmares. Only that for so many the nightmare is a cold stone reality. The men murdered, were not just martyred for their faith in Jesus, but also for there belief in freedom of speech. A freedom I take for granted, both in sharing my faith and saying if I disagree with the authorities without risk of punishment.

Prejudice and hatred stems from an insecurity and a lack of knowledge. May our halls of power, or the discussions had at bars or over a meal in a restaurant, not be debate and conversation that breeds prejudice against a particular faith or individuals. Instead may such debate and conversation  stop short of falling into the trap that hate leaves for all of us.

Moreover let us find value in one-another and for a moment consider the words of the Jesus, that these men and so many other men, women and children who have died in the name of believed in. To love one another as You love yourself and if you feel so inclined love God with all your heart soul and mind.

What might be our response to hate be?  In the comfort of my office chair, I too easily would reply with the well warn gospel passage, that we should love our enemies or those who would do us harm.

Yet with the image of those wearing orange jumpsuits moments before they are martyred in my mind. I pause and consider what does loving your enemy really look like, with a gun or machete pressed against your neck, and a mass grave a metre from where you kneel.

What would you or I do when a man or women has hold of your wife, girlfriend or child, threatening to do unspeakable things too them unless you renounce your faith. Would you, renounce your faith to save your loved ones knowing that God knows your true intentions and heart? Given a chance would you seek away to turn the tables on the enemy in your midst?

What would the loving thing be, how do we live out the colour of our creed, under such intense and overwhelming odds stacked against us. Lastly do we just close our eyes and step into the eternity jesus prepares for those who love him.

There are no simple answers or easy solutions, apart from one, trusting in a God who knows the names of those who died, he sees the martyred  in their final moments. My prayer is that he takes their souls into the eternal comfort and warmth of his love. For those who have renounced their faith, under unbelievable pressure, I want to believe that God sees you, and sees the reasons behind your enforced actions. God’s son son died on the cross for moments like yours, so that there is always away back.

Finally Love always wins, always. Perhaps that day is not today, perhaps it’s not even next year, but love will and has won. That is my prayer for you, that you might know that love, that transforms and overcomes in your lives and circumstances.

Until next week take care.

Loving God Isn’t Easy!

As promised part two of the valentines post. Sometimes loving God, is sometimes a lot harder than it looks and takes more effort than the sunday service!

I once asked the Rev Paul Jinadu, after he got off the stage having just leading the morning Bible study at Spring Harvest some years ago when I was a teenager. Why it was that God and I felt distant from each other. He responded with the question, did I have a girlfriend! Which in retrospect was perhaps a strange question!

I at the time happened to be madly in love with somebody, who I can’t for the life of me now remember the name off!  Paul followed up his earlier question with, what do you do with her! I said something along the lines of ‘well we hang out and talk and stuff’. Then he asked me if I loved God, I answered with an emphatic yes. Then came the sideswipe, he challenged me to think of my walk with Jesus similar to that of my relationship with the girl. That Just as we had a to and fro conversations and hung out with her I should also hang out with Jesus the same. The challenge of that conversation has never left me and the graciousness of Paul to give his time up for me and the razor sharpness of his wisdom, has been an enduring blessing over the many years since.

But life is busy, frantic and hectic it is hard to spend time, quality time, with those whom you love. The rate of marriage break-ups and relationships crumbling is testimony to that. Perhaps even the rate at which our churches are emptying is yet another example of people falling out with God! A God people sometimes fail to understand, perhaps because they have not spent enough time getting to know him.

Moreover there are those of us who after many years of faithful service, just walk away from God. Because somewhere along the way we lost our faith in God, a God that looks like the church at its worst, and appears to be absent from the world when it is at its most depraved a God who allows the atrocity, brokenness, and evil to prevail. That no matter how hard we try, good just doesn’t seem to win. For those of us that feel and have felt that way we need some kind of intervention.

As Relate works with couples, we need something similar to work between humanity and God to mend broken bridges, to heal the deep wounds, that love might blossom once more, could that be the church at its best, truly emulating its Christo-centric heart, or Jesus centredness. Of course the love between God and humanity is not like Romance, it’s something more and deeper, sustaining and liberating, forgiving and healing. I need to know God loves me from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet, without which I am simply lost.

Let us perhaps use this valentines season, short though it is. To recommit ourselves to our relationship with God, who through Jesus can mend bridges, heal deep wounds, and is the image and example of forgiveness and true love.

Finally 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is that classic passage about love, I have used to dozens of times in weddings, but I find its definition of love falls short of human relationships and perhaps could be rewritten in this way. God is patient; God is kind; God is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. He is not irritable or resentful; He does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. He bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Gods love never ends.

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