Living in a Field of Hats

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

Singing what you feel July 18, 2012

Filed under: Christian Life,Mission Trips — Sarah @ 6:34 pm
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This time last week I was leading a team on an English and Bible camp in lovely hot and sunny weather (total shock to the system to be back!). Before I went, I’d anticipated so many problems and issues that may arise (none of them did, though others did come up!) But the biggest thing that I faced, and hadn’t expected (stupidly) was to face my own sin.

About a week and half ago, I was laid on bench halfway through a really tough day. Despite the laughter I could hear from inside the house, I felt awful. I’d just had a couple of really hard conversations and all I could do was cry. I’d wanted to be a great leader – to love the team and the students we were working with. I’d prayed that would be the case. And yet it wasn’t. I’d tried everything that I could think of to do. I couldn’t even put what I was thinking into words.

A friend introduced me to some hymns by Indelible Grace and the one below, ‘I asked the Lord’ (written by John Newton) really sums up where I was. I was in verse 4 – feeling the hidden evils of my heart. I’ve listened to the song over and over for the last 24 hours and it’s made such a difference. Worship songs are great, but sometimes we don’t feel the emotions that many of them focus upon and singing them can feel hypocritical, or like I’m a failure for not feeling those things. Sometimes they can focus us back on Jesus, but sometimes as has been the case for me this week, singing my experience and real thoughts and feelings has fixed my gaze so much more firmly on Jesus. (If you fancy downloading some of the songs for free and legally then have a click here!)

Have a listen to it here:

And here are the words:

1. I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith and love and every grace
Might more of His salvation know
And seek more earnestly His face

2. Twas He who taught me thus to pray
And He I trust has answered prayer
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair

3. I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request
And by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins and give me rest

4. Instead of this He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart
And let the angry powers of Hell
Assault my soul in every part

5. Yea more with His own hand
He seemed Intent to aggravate my woe
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Cast out my feelings, laid me low

6. Lord why is this, I trembling cried
Wilt Thou pursue thy worm to death?
“Tis in this way” The Lord replied
“I answer prayer for grace and faith”

7. “These inward trials I employ
From self and pride to set thee free
And break thy schemes of earthly joy
That thou mayest seek thy all in me,
That thou mayest seek thy all in me.”


“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!


Overawed by Grace . . . . again June 20, 2009

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 5:08 pm
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Todays one of those days when I just feel like an idiot for messing up, and for forgetting just how radical and broad and life changing the gospel is. For seeing how I have made it so narrow and legalistic in some areas so its glory just doesn’t shine through. How I have limited it and it’s effect.

That is what is so amazing about grace. Even on days like today, grace covers me – Praise the Lord. Was reminded of the words of this song which really do sum up how I am feeling!

Grace unmeasured, vast and free
That knew me from eternity
That called me out before my birth
To bring You glory on this earth
Grace amazing, pure and deep
That saw me in my misery
That took my curse and owned my blame
So I could bear Your righteous name

Grace paid for my sins
And brought me to life
Grace clothes me with power
To do what is right
Grace will lead me to heaven
Where I’ll see Your face
And never cease
To thank You for Your grace

Grace abounding, strong and true
That makes me long to be like You
That turns me from my selfish pride
To love the cross on which You died
Grace unending all my days
You’ll give me strength to run this race
And when my years on earth are through
The praise will all belong to You

God has known me from the beginning of time, he knew my heart and what i would do and yet he still chose me to bring him glory on earth. He paid for my sin, brought me from death to life and knew that I would still be sinful and selfish and so grace, over time transforms me by God changing my heart and even when it feels like I can’t go on he gives me the strength and best of all . . . . the grace knows no limits!

The gospel really is good news!


Battling Unbelief October 6, 2008

Filed under: Christian Life — Sarah @ 2:16 pm
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As a thank you for being a volunteer cook at Forum, I was given four new books from IVP, which was very exciting. Picked up one of them last night because of the title alone! ‘Battling Unbelief’ by John Piper. Before someone reads too much into this and thinks I’m doubting my faith – be reassured that that’s not the case, but actually there are times when I, like everyone else (I’m guessing!) do feel like ‘but can it be true’ and it just seems ludicrous.

And, I kinda thought I knew what the book would tell me but the first couple of chapters showed me I was quite wrong! I was expecting it to be along the lines of there’s so much proof, we can be assured that the gospel’s true and that it would be a really reassuring book in that sense. But, it’s another book on grace which obviously in itself is amazingly reassuring. Dealing with future grace and past grace and the fact that it is that, that we so often don’t believe in. And it’s so true. Whenever I have doubts most of them are to do with can God’s promises really be trusted. Grace really is something that I am never going to be able to have a proper grip on – it does always seem to just slip away.

Also, the book starts with the reminder that “No one sins out of duty. We sin because it offers some promise of happiness” and that the lie is only broken when we realise that God is the one that is more desirable. This wasn’t the only thing that I wasn’t expecting in the early chapters as John Piper (AKA Pipes) starts to deal with the things that cause us to disbelieve the promises of God. The first one is anxiety which I thought was really strange. He talks about it in a non Medically defined condition way, in terms of when we constantly worry about things. It is being anxious that so often leads us to sin as we doubt in God’s promise in some way. This link is something I’ve never ever realised before. So found this really new and shocking. I’m probably fairly well known for being a bit of worry wart especially when it comes to making decisions and so the thought that worrying is causing me to doubt in God’s promises is well…shocking.

Pipes backs a lot of this up from Matthew 6, which strangely enough I found myself quoting to someone else in the last week who was doing nothing but worry about things! I knew worrying was pointless which is what I was saying from Matthew 6 to my friend, but Pipes takes it one step further by making the link with that doubt or unbelief in God’s future grace and promises, or in some cases past grace. Really challenging to as he encourages us to “sever the clinging roots of sin that ensnare us”. This is only the first chapter as well!