Recently I’ve found it really hard to want to get out of bed in the morning to want to read the Bible. My bible that’s in my own language, that is the Word of God, that I can have a choice of translations if I wish, that’s freely avaliable. And still it’s hard. This video has been on lots of my friends facebook walls over the last couple of days – what a challenge to see the faith of these people when they had had so little of the Bible. Can you imagine only knowing small amounts of the bible and then being given an entire New Testament. The hunger they have to read it is something that is so often lacking in me and others. The way in which these people eagerly wanted to read the new testament is similar to the eagerness I had in reading the final Harry Potter book. What a challenge to make the most of what God has chosen to give me – His complete word in my language.
Dig Even Deeper February 5, 2011
One of the things I love about my job is getting a pile of new books at random intervals thanks to the lovely people over at IVP.
One I’ve loved in the previous lot is “Dig Even Deeper” by Andrew Sach and Richard Alldritt. It’s a book dedicated to showing how the Old Testament applies to us in the 21st Century through applying the tools from the book “Dig Deeper” to Exodus. We’ve been doing Exodus at church over the last couple of weeks so reading this alongside has been really helpful. The one thing that has struck me from Exodus is in chapter 2 seeing the way that God prepares Moses for his task. Moses was 80 years old when he finally went to free God’s people from their slavery. But it wasn’t that God had forgotten, or that he didn’t care about what his people were going through but that he was preparing Moses. God was making sure that his plan was fulfilled in his perfect timing. Amazing.
But there’s two things I absolutley love about this book (more than all of the other things I love)
1) The subtitle “Unearthing Old Testament treasure”: So often the Old testament is seen as being something that we can’t understand and has no relevance. But yet there is real treasure there that shows us so much about our God. This book is really easy way to see that practically worked out in one Old Testament book and gives the skills to see it in other books too.
2) It makes you read the Old Testament! One of the things I find a little too easy sometimes is to read a book about the bible rather than the bible itself. Some books help by having quotes in, but this one goes one step further by forcing you to stop after the introduction to go and read Exodus. Love it! Also, it makes you think . . . there’s questions that are asked that mean you need to dig into sections of the bible … and they deliberatly don’t give the answers afterwards so that you have to think and look for yourself.
So . . . in conclusion the Old testment is full of treasure and this is a great book for helping us to see how we can handle it for ourselves
Reading the Bible together January 31, 2011
I remember when I was a second year student and the church apprentice asked me whether or not I’d like to read the bible with her. I thought it was the most random thing in the world to ask! Now a few years on I am so grateful that she did. Through that relationship with her and the things we read together in the bible and applied to our lives, and other one to one bible studies I’ve since had, God has taught me so much. It really is great to read the bible with someone that bit older with a bit more life experience.
I was talking about this today with a lady from church who I currently meet with and saying that these relationships don’t happen as often as they could. We figured it’s because people are scared of meeting up and opening the bible to study it together. As someone who’s been discipled through these relationships and really benefitted, I say – just do it! And the prep doesn’t need to be awful and scary. We’re currently using these books which are great because they take very little prep (great for me and for a new mum!) and are a great spring board into talking about real issues and life.
So if you get the chance then take it – and not just for the benefit of the other person. One thing I love about my job is the chance I get to do one to one bible studies with students and really see them grow and mature as Christians. And I learn so much from them too – it’s not all one way!
Seeing the encouragements January 26, 2011
For various reasons I’ve needed to remind myself of all the encouragements of my job over the past few days. Here’s todays encouragement. Seeing these girls (and the others that are normally there!) grow and learn more about Jesus over the last term has been great (and they are really fun to hang around with too!)
My view for most of the afternoon . . .
Until the point in which the giggles took over!
ps there was no post yesterday due to lack of internet at home yesterday evening!
Have you ever sat in a talk thinking “man I wish (s)he’d hurry up and finish”? I don’t think it’s just me…but be free to tell me otherwise!
I remember going to a conference a few years back and afterwards everyone raving about how good the speaker was. And he was … I guess. But I did spend a good half of his talk wishing he’d hurry up and shut up. That’s not to say he was rubbish necessarily but I really did get bored. I’ve not had that on the same sort of scale since but there are still times when people at the end of church are like “wow that’s amazing” and I’m like “meh, was ok”.
And, I don’t think the problem lies with the preachers necessarily either. Now, that’s not to say that don’t have a responsibilty to make sure that they are engaging with their audience and being relevant, because they absolutely do. But I think we so often forget that those that are listening have a responsibilty too. So often when I get bored in a talk (which to be fair isn’t as regularly as this post is probably making out it is!) I think, ugh [name] is boring and this isn’t a good preach. Where as actually what that is reflecting is where my heart is. If I’m feeling really lethargic about my faith and not really interested in hearing from God, then it’s amazing how rubbish I then see sermons as! Also, surely we each see different talks as being good/brilliant/amazing depending on what we learn from it? Which is again is kinda down to us. The preacher has a responsibility to apply the bible well, sure, but if I’m not going to church or a conference wanting to hear from God, to have my soul refreshed, well again it’s showing where my heart is, isn’t it?
Too often we think that listening to the Bible being taught is a passive thing. We just sit back and listen and God does all the work in us and that’s it. It’s like a having a minor op every week. Sit down, stay focused and then it’s all over in half hour or less.
So what does make a good talk? One that is well prepared. And not just by the preacher. If we really want to sit under God’s word then surely we need to prepare ourselves for it? We need to be ready to hear God’s word and willing to take it however hard it may be and apply it? We need to be actively listening and not just thinking it’l be over soon and wondering what we’re going to spend our afternoon doing. I guess this then means the way in which we approach sundays changes. Giving time and thought to the passage beforehand is one way of preparing and praying God would speak to us in his word. And then, even if the sermon is boring, unengaging and culturally irrelvant we still have read God’s word for ourselves and started to apply it to our own situations.
The irony of all this is that this chain of thinking was set off by really enjoying the sermons at church the last couple of weeks!
* i never know what to refer to the talk as. Is it a preach, a talk or a sermon?! Does it depend on your setting? Your denomination? Who’s doing it? So confusing!
A day in a photo January 12, 2011
Today’s job has been to look at how people knew that Jesus was going to come and form it into a 20 minute talk! But with free wifi, a bible and £1 filter coffee it’s a lot less daunting!
Lavishing January 10, 2011
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called Children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
This the beginning of the passage which we looked at as a team today and the verse which a friend sent me in a card today too . . . and it’s so encouraging! Not only are there two exclamation points (which as MJ pointed out isn’t very common in the Bible) but we are ‘Children of God’ because of the love that has been lavished on us . . . not just given us a little but overflowing all encompassing love that never changes. Amazing! And I love that John follows the statement with “And that is what we are!” because it does seem so shocking that we, sinful selfish human beings, can call ourselves the children of God – but not because of what we’ve done, but because His love and sacrifice which he chose to lavish on us!
Childlike Simplicity June 29, 2010
We’ve recently started using the Jesus Storybook Bible as the basis for Sunday School. So we’re working our way through the whole Bible with the emphasis on the books subtitle “every story whispers His name”.
I am loving it! Have never liked any kids Bible before .If you have kids / know someone with kids then buy this and read it with them, It’s fantastically Christ centred and I’ve found it great to use myself. Its beautiful to look at and to read – its proved to be a hit with 3 year olds and 12 year olds!
And have been thinking that sometimes we need to come back to basics and see the beauty of the gospel afresh and thats what I’ve found with this. It’s awesome!
God wrote, “I love you” – he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror – to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing [Hebrews 1 & Psalm 19]
Ferndale in Focus April 28, 2010
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.
Why I love Sunday School (and proof that the Bible isn’t true – according to a 12 year old!) March 8, 2010
Yesterday’s sunday school was the most enjoyable for quite a while . . mainly because of the words that came out of the 12 year olds mouths. Such as:
– “I wouldn’t hug Gordon Brown coz he’s ugly” (it was linked to the lesson!)
– “Those two there, are they married?” (Pointing to a pictures of the Queen and Gordon Brown)
And my personal favourite . . . .
12 year old – “So, people wrote the Bible like 2000 years ago”
Me – “Yes”
12 year old – “And they didn’t have computers back then did they?”
Me – “No”
12 year old – “Well, the bible is clearly not real then is it because it’s typed and there’s no way that people could have written it typed like that all those years ago, so the Bible is just all made up”
Me – speechless . . .