Living in a Field of Hats

some ramblings and reflections on working with students in Herts and Beds.

Ten things I learnt this weekend May 24, 2010

Filed under: Church,Random,Update — Sarah @ 11:42 pm
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I had the absolute pleasure of spending last weekend with the Juniors (8-11’s) from Belle Vue Baptist’s Brigades. Thought I’d be different and update with a list of things I learnt. So in no particular order . . . .

1) Tents don’t have to be small and cramped (one person to a four man tent is very spacious!) and camping in good weather is actually kinda fun – though only if good weather and spacious tent can be guarnteed (with showers and toilets near by!)
2) Essex has pretty parts (which I forgot to photograph but trust me they exist!)
3) The basic truth of the gospel is something that we never move past, and the wonder of the awesomeness of it never passes
4) Kids are cleverer than I sometimes give them credit for. E.g. Me: Apart from Jesus does anyone know of anyone else who ever rose from the dead? It’s impossible isn’t it? 8 year old: What about Lazarus?
5) Kids really do get a lot of pleasure from a relatively small hill and find playing on it for 5 hours over the weekend perfectly acceptable fun.
6) I love the sun!
7) I hate being woken up at 4am by teenage girls talking thus only having 3 hours sleep.
8 ) Listening outside the girls tent when they’re having their midnight feast can be very enlightening!
9) I love Top Gear so much, the basis for my three sessions was inadvertantly based on the Top Gear cool wall . . . . !
10) God really does give us what we need, even in the situations where were convinced its the last thing we need. I was so tired going into the weekend I was convinced it wasn’t the best idea, but I’ve come back feeling physically shattered but completly refreshed and recharged in many ways. It’s awsome.

All in all a great weekend!



Ferndale in Focus April 28, 2010

Filed under: Christian Life,Church — Sarah @ 10:06 pm
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I meant to post this when I wrote it (in Feburary!) but forgot, but came across a copy of the church magazine today and reread it and saw just how apt it is for the church situation and how God is really working through tough times with us keeping our eyes fixed on him. woop!

New Verse for a New Year

The more observant of you will have noticed that the verse on the frront page of Ferndale in Focus has changed from the verse which Jon Delves introduced to us back in January 2009 to “Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” from Philippians 1:27.

A couple of weeks ago I was informed that it was down to me to pick the verse for the year and I really didn’t know what to choose. Flicking through my bible I ended up reading through Philippians and came to 1:27, the verse in which Paul summarises what he is writing to the church at Philippi about.

I guess its fair to say that in the last year Ferndale as a whole has been through some tough times and they continue. But that’s also true for so many individuals that make up our fellowship. That’s why I chose this verse as a verse that I thought was relevant to Ferndale in 2010.

Paul was writing to a church that had had and was having a hard time. They were learning that life as a Christian was far from easy. In this verse though, he is encouraging them to keep going because of the hope that we have. A few verses later in chapter two he points us to the lengths that Jesus was willing to go to for us. Jesus, as God himself, chose to become God for our sakes. He chose to die on a cross, with all the humilation that came along with that (Roman citizens weren’t allowed to be executed on a cross because it was seen as being too barbaric . . . in fact the word “cross” wasn’t even said in polite society!) He did that for us!

Though His sacrifical choices, we as those who have rejected God are able to become friends of God by trusting that Jesus has created a way for us.

So when Paul writes that we need to live as citizens worthy of the gospel, it’s not about us doing the right things, or saying the right things. In fact it is about us looking to the one who came from heaven and gave up all for our sake. Amazing!

So this coming year, things may well continue to be hard for us as a church and as individuals but ultimately we can rejoice in the fact that Jesus has enabled us to know God and that we are unified in that! We can trust Christ in all situations because He has done all that needed to be done. We go forward as people united around the good news of Jesus to love and serve the people around us.


What is faith? January 8, 2010

Filed under: Church — Sarah @ 3:57 pm
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Have spent today looking for illustrations of faith for Girls Brigade Parade on Sunday where we’re looking at Hebrews 11. Was using my old trusty friend google and came across this from Piper which I thought was really helpful

Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.

What a great illustration, especially to explain faith to children!


Light in the World November 1, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Church — Sarah @ 4:38 pm
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This morning at church we looked at Matthew 5:14-16:

14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Bonnet, the pastor of Brethern in Christ church that shares Ferndales building was speaking and it was brilliant. He explored so many ways in which we are called to be light in this world! |The one that really struck me however was about ‘Doing the Unusual’.

He made the point that we often as Christians ‘do the usual’, so do what other people do. Do what is culturally acceptable.  And we do! This links into conversations I’ve had friends this week to do with Halloween and how we as Christians should celebrate it. i.e. do we totally avoid any dealings with it, or make a value judgment depending on what it is we’re doing. e.g. spending time with non Christian friends which has some Halloween content such as pumpkin carving and dressing up? I think I’d tend towards to the second but can understand why people would go for the first because we are called to be children of light . . .

But back to this morning, Bonnet gave the example of Desmond Tutu’s conversion which really struck me. Desmond grew up in South Africa during the apartheid so was used to the fact that he had to give white people the right of way whilst walking. According to wikipedia (not the most reliable of sources but pretty accurate this time I think) the story is as follows:

“One day”, said Tutu, “I was standing in the street with my mother when a white man in a priest’s clothing walked past. As he passed us he took off his hat to my mother. I couldn’t believe my eyes — a white man who greeted a black working class woman!”

This white priest did the unusual! He looked beyond the cultural norms and loved his neighbour, even though it would have been seen as awful.

This felt like such a challenge!



“This world has got to be hell” October 13, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Church — Sarah @ 4:00 pm
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The title of this blog is a direct quote from one of the guys on the Alpha course I am running with local 16-25’s at the YMCA.

We were looking at the question of “Why did Jesus die” and got on to discussing sin and what is actually is then to heaven and hell.

His argument (which makes a lot of sense if you misunderstand sin!) is as  follows:

“Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago for sin and yet now in 2009 there is still rapes, murders etc so what did it actually do? Surely nothing, and therefore the world in which we live now is actually hell and heaven is to come.”

It makes a lot of sense! We were then able to talk about a load of these issues, and agree that this world is awful and hurtful (bear in mind that many in this group have seen the worst that the world has to offer). The gospel seemed ultra amazing spoken into these broken lives. The goodness of the gospel and the ability to mend brokeness.

The idea that Jesus died to take sin away is an interesting one. If that’s the case then of course Jesus failed (as a certain chart song released this week says – Robbie Williams Bodies. Have a read of Peter Dray’s blog on that). It’s the idea that Jesus was paying a price that most shocked the group. That sin was serious enough to have a price, death. One guy in the group, who is lovely and nice and thoughtful and considerate etc, was genuinely shocked by the revelation that he was as much a sinner as anyone else!

Being able to point them to the cross and the truth of what happened there was such a privilege! (especially as the goodness of the gospel was a reminder I desperately needed that night!). And seems that exciting things are happening!


Church is boring June 19, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Church — Sarah @ 11:39 am
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Just came across this video on youtube . . . .

Really excting to hear that Sunday Monring BBC broadcasts have really challenged Chris Moyles view of church – it isn’t boring!


Singleness isn’t second best! March 27, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life,Church — Sarah @ 6:39 pm
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Now, just the word singleness conjours up may different images I’m sure. I’m guessing for a lot of girls aged 10-30 (and probably over and probably a lot of men as well!) it’s a hugely negative thing. Why? Because we are so often told by the media that its normal to have a partner – or to at least be really wanting one! I’ve really tried but can not think of a poisitve single person in the media. It isn’t seen as ‘normal’. As Christians we believe that the Bible is God’s Word and what is in it is from Him and totally true. So, why is it that so many Christians seem to ignore:

I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.
1 Corinthians 7:7-8

Now, obviously this has to be taken compltely in context, and I am not trying to say that marriage is bad at all, because it isn’t biblically worse than singleness. They are both equal. However, I think that it is very true that in many churches today the prevailing view is that singleness is what happens before you find ‘the one’. It’s not a situation that people are expected to stay in much longer than their 20’s (and I do realise that I am only in my early 20’s!). This is expressed in so many different ways! I have lost count of the amount of times that I have been told people that “it’ll be my turn to get married next”. Where’s their proof?! People, and I’ve noticed it in married people and single people, seem to just assume that marriage is for everyone and that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t think like that.

The way many churches are set up can quite easily back this view up. For example having a 20 & 30’s group can actually give the impression (and it easily does give the impression) that if you over the age of 39 then you are no longer expected to be part of that group and in fact you should be in a relationship and participating in areas of church life more appropiate to your age – i.e. families

I’ve struggled with this for quite a while now in varying measures. It is hard being made to feel (99% of the time at least unintentionally) like I should be married, and should be expecting God to provide someone soon but I’ve known that there is no Biblical promise.

But, recently I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about my future, and the areas that I think God might be leading me in. There really have been times when I have gotten freaked out by the fact that a marriage and God’s will might clash (which is ridiculous I know!) But even thinking about not being free to be able to go and serve God wherever he might call me has been really difficult! This has led me to really pray about the issue quite a lot, and I’ve ended up having a lot of conversations with single Christian friends quite randomly which have been so helpful. And now, I think that I am in the place where I can actually whole heartedly say – “Yes I am single. No, it isn’t second best. It may last my entire life, it may not but either way I am happy with that. I am happy to be freed to serve God in places which I couldn’t if I was married. Whatever my situation my only aim is to serve and glorify God – whether that being single and more able to travel, or married and serving in a very different context.”

It has taken months to get to this situation to whole heartedly say that. This does not mean that it is easy in any way shape or form, but I know that the God we serve is good and He has a very definite will for me and I am happy to completly submit to that. If the Bible says that singleness and marriage are equal then why should I say different???