College Update // October 2013

Southwark Cathedral & Education centre
So I’ve made it to half term and am
grabbing some time to write the next update before the chaos starts again.
Actually I say that, but so far it has not been too chaotic, we seem to have
fallen into a rhythm that works for us as a family and whilst there will
undoubtedly be weeks when deadlines fall where things may not run so smoothly,
so far so good!
This
term I have 2 modules to study, one for evenings at Southwark, which is ‘Church
in Practice’ and one for the weekends, which is focusing on Mission. Church in
Practice (or CiP) covers the history of the Christian church, how patterns of
worship formed, ie: why we do what we do in our churches. Also looking at the
Christian calendar: events that are celebrated annually in the church – Easter
and Christmas being the obvious but there are loads more. We started this
module looking at liturgy which is the way services are formed – the wording,
the various components that are included in each service and so on. Got to
admit I thought this was going to be a pretty dull module to start on, but I
have actually found it fascinating. So, for example did you know that early
Bishops in the church were chosen according to how well they could lead
services by listening to the Holy Spirit and being guided by him (I think the
technical term for this might be ‘winging it’ !). Seriously, I loved reading
this because this is how I try and live my life, just being guided by God not
according to some set pattern.
The
module on Mission which we are taught on over the weekends is just amazing.
It’s an area that I feel passionate about anyway but the teaching has been so
inspiring. Mission is basically taking the message of Jesus out into the world,
not just by telling people about him, but by showing them. So it can include things as diverse as community
projects, praying for people on the street, events and more. We have had a guy
called Ian Mosby to come and tutor us who runs a project in London called
‘Moot’, which basically allows people to explore spirituality within a
Christian context. He shared some startling statistics that showed that in a
survey of non-Christians in the UK, over 75% would agree that they have some
sort of belief in a force of good, possibly God, and accept that humans are
spiritual; but of those less than 10%
would look to the church for answers. That is exactly what Moot is addressing –
helping people ask those kind of spiritual questions in a non traditional
church format. Very inspiring.
As
part of this module we also get to do a mission placement project and our group
will be going to St Peter’s church in Henfield, which is very local to us here.
We’ll be helping to put on a nativity festival in the church which I’m really
excited about. If you’re local, it will be starting over the weekend of 7/8 December
so do pop along.
I’ve
also just finished my first assignment (just in time to enjoy half term!). It
was a 2000 word essay entitled; ‘To what extent has observance of the Christian
year been a unifying factor in the history of Christian worship?’. Which is
probably enough to send anyone to sleep and anyone who I have mentioned it to
seems to glaze over within seconds, but I have found the research really
interesting.
Our second study weekend was
at an ex-army hotel in Gillingham, which let’s face it, is not the nicest town
in the world, but compared to the stone cell I had on the previous weekend was
actually pretty luxurious. And of course it had actually hit the 21st
century, I mean I even had a teasmaid in the room this time… I think like most
of our venues there are little quirks, like the fact that we had to use one big
room for most of the things we did, so while we were holding times of worship,
the staff would often be setting up for dinner in the other half of the room, or
clearing away from breakfast. Needless to say there were several bouts of
stifled giggles when odd clanking noises occurred in particularly reverential
parts of the services (maturity doesn’t come along with being a Christian
clearly…).
Some
good bits //
Well
lots really, after the low of the first weekend it has all been pretty much
uphill. Plus a trip to Disneyland, Paris last week which has nothing whatsoever
to do with college but it was amazing!
Rough
stuff //
:
Getting lost in a park in Gillingham – decided on an early morning run and got
hopelessly lost in a park near our hotel and ended up running twice as far as I
wanted and nearly missing breakfast. Thankful for a random dog walker who
pointed me in the right direction!
:
Two weekends away within the space of a few weeks – this is a one off as we had
an induction weekend as an extra this term. Pretty rough on us all to be
honest, but thankfully the next one isn’t until the end of November now.
Prayer
Stuff //
:
I’m approaching a very busy few weeks with 3 family birthdays, a new project at
work hopefully getting off the ground, Christmas preparation, planning the
Mission Project and another assignment due. So prayer for peace, no stress and
good time management would be great.
:
For Phil & the family, for good quality family time, for continued ease in
general organisation, and for understanding all round when I am snowed under!
So,
that’s all for now, thanks for your continued support,
Blessings
Jules x

Keeping it Real…

So I recently entered the #digifaith competition ‘Christian Writing in a Digital Age’. The brief was to write a blog post of no more than 450 words about an aspect of Christian writing and had to include something to do with writing, something to do with faith and something to do with the digital age. Right up my street! I didn’t win but here’s my entry anyway…

You know what? I love living in the digital age. I love that I can get hold of my teenager at any second of the day or night (she, not so much). I love that if I’m lost in the wilds of Sussex (yes, it has been known) I can Google my way out. I love that I can get the answer to any question in the entire world, with a swipe of my finger (ok so it may not actually be the right answer). And I really love social media. I am a tweeter, a facebooker, instagramer, blogger… just can’t get enough of it. 

I am also a Jesus follower. 

Thing is, being in a digital age, you never quite know quite how much is digital and how much is ‘real’ do you? Society seems to be obsessed with ‘persona’ and this digitalness enables us to be whoever we want to be. It’s like ‘Ikea’ for people: pick your sofa, pick your hairstyle; pick your character, pick your past… Adverts scream at us from the peace of our own Facebook pages, ‘YOU can be different, you can be BETTER, you can be whatever you want’. ‘If you buy this brand of Wellington boot, with one splash of the Dorset mud you will instantly be transformed into ‘Yummy Mummy’ or ‘Wear this shade of lipstick and you will become an irresistible sultry goddess with one swift swipe of the stick….’ You know what I mean, I’m sure. And I think secretly we all have a bit of us that wants to be something else, or someone else… so we fall for it, the appeal of not being ourselves for a while. The digital age just means we can carry out this charade with perfect ease.  Pick your stereotype, chose an avatar, write a few posts and away you go. You are now Mysterious Mable from Marylebone, with a penchant for flavoured tea and an expert baker (of course). 

So, where does that leave us? Christians awash in a sea of falsity? Well, how about this?: let’s be real! There is enough tosh out there for an eternity. Some of my favourite blogs are Christians being real, sharing their lives, but at the same time acknowledging that there is something more to life – and I don’t mean their latest Egyptian cotton sheets, or the rescued chickens perusing their ‘oh so charming’ gardens –  but that the something more, is the true and living God. Here’s the thing, we actually do have a real message to share and a true and perfect persona to reveal. If we want to be like someone else, let it be Jesus.

If you’re interested you can see the results/winning blogs via the digifaith blog here.

Crossbones Graveyard


In medieval times this was an unconsecrated graveyard for prostitutes or ‘Winchester Geese’. By the 18th century it had become a paupers burial ground, which closed in 1853. Here local people have created a memorial shrine.

The Outcast Dead
RIP



A few weeks back I was searching around the depths of Southwark for the office of my theological college and chanced upon this place. I took a quick snap as I was intrigued and it’s only today that I’ve looked into it a bit more.  The gates, fronting what seems to be a derelict site overgrown with weeds, are adorned with hundreds of ribbons, dolls, signs, flowers along with the plaque (words above).
So it turns out this place was once a burial ground for the prostitutes of Southwark from about 1100 onwards. They were known as ‘Winchester Geese’ from the fact that the Bishop of Winchester licensed them to ply their trade in this area which became well known as a ‘pleasure quarter’. Seems quite bizarre that the Bishop would not only turn a blind eye to this but in fact actually give it legitimacy!  By the early 19th century there were concerns about the continued use of this site as a graveyard and it was subsequently closed.
In recent years there have been several attempts to build on the land which have met with much resistance from locals. In fact a friends society has been set up to protect the area and they hold regular events and vigils at the site, find out more here on their website which has plenty of information about the history of the site.  I’ve got to say that their activities seem far too pagan for my liking, but there is something rather reverential about the fact that these women who once would have been at the depths of society, living in appalling conditions, often dying young from various diseases, are being honoured now in this way. Whilst in life they suffered and were not valued, now this land is probably worth a huge amount being in the heart of London, and a group of people are bothered enough to want to honour their memory.
It’s quite amazing what you find when you’re wandering around the city, a chance walk along this street discovered an opening into a whole different world. Whilst today Borough is pretty trendy and becoming more so, a few hundred years ago it was a whole ‘nother matter…

Book Review ‘Crossroads’ by Wm Paul Young

On a chance visit to our nearest Christian Book Shop (which isn’t actually all that near at all…) I saw a big display of books. I would have ignored it apart from the tiny sticker indicting it was by the author of ‘The Shack’ (which I saw has sold 18million copies!) – if you’ve read it, like marmite, you’ll either love it or hate it. (Most love it but find the subject matter very hard to read – the main character’s young daughter is abducted and murdered). I loved The Shack and so on an impulse I bought Crossroads and subsequently read it in 2 days (partly helped by being ill and having to rest!)

Young is a Christian and his books reflect the Christian message,  evangelical in nature, clearly illustrating some of the complexities of faith in a simple and easy to understand way. The Shack was a quirky and contemporary read, addressing some deep theological issues like the trinity with ease. I really liked the way it was written, I’d never read anything like it. Crossroads is written in the same vein. It takes some deep issues and addresses them in the same way as in The Shack. There are similarities – in The Shack, God is represented as a large black woman, in Crossroads the Holy Spirit as a native Indian woman. Where I loved that in The Shack, in Crossroads I found it lazy, too same-y. Young fans will probably love that, but for me it was slightly disappointing. Jesus is a likeable chap (he would be) who forms an easy relationship with the main character, Tony. I like this because I think this is what jesus would be like.

So was it a good read? – yes, couldn’t put it down. The main character is initially an unlikeable man, arrogant, self-absorbed hurtful and paranoid. He ends up in a coma and in this coma state subsequently meets God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They give him the opportunity to put the things right, with an offer to heal just one person. Through this he encounters various strangers who become friends who subsequently affect his life and his decisions. The plot is clever if rather unbelievable, and in places it seems unbiblical, not sure what the bible says about the spirit of a living person inhabiting someone else. Sounds demonic if you ask me! But it’s a very easy read. That said, to get the best out of it a slower or second read would be necessary to address some of the themes within it. 

The book cleverly uses a changing landscape to illustrate the state of Tony’s heart and mind, in the aftermath of his arrogant and self centred life. And we watch how as he addresses the things he has done, the landscape changes until he reaches the one final, and huge hurdle. I wonder what has happened in Young’s life that he addresses such difficult and painful issues in his books (I am sure I could google and find out…) but I imagine to some who have dealt with such pain this would be a deeply beneficial read.

I really like the main theme of redemption, that no matter how much of a mess you make in your life, no matter how many people you hurt, there is a chance with God, to make it right. That is the Gospel right there. So if it makes people think, gets them asking questions then it’s done it’s job. 

Discover Your Spiritual Giftings // Sermon 131013

My latest preach from Sunday. This is the start to a new series at our church, ‘One & Many’, on discovering your spiritual giftings. If you want to know more, the talks will be online here. As usual I write out what I want to say in advance but I don’t read it when I’m preaching, I use it as a guide so it won’t be exactly what I said, and there are points below that are more in note form, but this is the general thing anyway!

I’ve
got to tell you I am so excited about this series, just looking at the last few
weeks and seeing what God has been doing here in our church, I just can’t wait
to see what he’s going to do with this God has been speaking to me on this
theme for a while now and I hope that throughout this series each of you will
feel as encouraged as I have.
What it’s all about//
So
let me start by telling you what it’s all about.  We’ve called it ‘we are One & Many’ –
which comes from the verse in 1 Corinthians:

The Body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all
it’s parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.’    1
Corinthians 12:12

We
are all ‘one’s’ aren’t we – all
individuals, and together as the many of
us, we form One church,  or one community.  We could also take it a step further and say
there are many individual churches
that build up the One body of
Christ… anyway you get the point, we are one
and many
on many diff levels.
The bible talks in several
places about giftings, or how God gifts us and we are going to be looking at
these passages over the coming weeks, but the essential message is that “We are
One and Many’ – We are ONE – ie: we are unique, ourselves – but also that we
are MANY – many individuals together. Many individuals make ONE whole –
one church. So we celebrate our uniqueness but also that those unique gifts
make us able to work together as one body. All the needs provided for the whole
through the individuals. We all have a part to play but we’re part of something
bigger.
Overview //
So I just
want to start by giving you an idea of how this is going to work. So this
series will run until the beginning of
December
. It will encompass teaching on Sunday mornings, and there are small
group
sessions that go alongside the teaching If you are not in a small
group we’d encourage you to get in one – lists at info point – great way to
learn together and support each other… However I know that for some of you that
is hard – work etc – and so we’ve put all the info on our funky new website –
if you got to the ‘latest teaching’ button on the homepage it will bring you to
the series page – there are
links from there to all you need. There
is also a resource list on there. 
Towards
the end of the teaching we are going to have the opportunity to hear a range
of  different talks on Sunday mornings
too. This whole series about us working
together, recognising who and what we have on our church so on those sundays we
are going to hear from people who are not normally out the front (although
there will be some of us too!), sharing their gifts with you. You will have a
choice of who to go and hear. We will be seeking God together, as individuals
and for each other, in church, by ourselves and in our small groups.
So resources…  I have asked those leading those sessions to
make some recommendations for further material, so for example we’ve got books
on various different gifts if you have an interest in one area. There’s also a
general section  on giftings. It’s a
comprehensive list, so don’t look at it and think argh that’s too much, it’s for
you to dip into if you want to. And I
know how busy some of you are, and not everyone is a book fan so there are also
some videos and talks on there too. And there’s some secular stuff too, to give
a broader look at the subject, so just have a look and see what takes your
fancy. If you cant get online and need a printed copy of this just let me know.
The Book
So
the one thing  we do want you all to get
if you can is this book… talk about it…. And questionnaire, why chosen etc.
Being
gifted //
I
think the term gifted can have negative connotations, let me explain
At my
daughters old school they had a programme called ‘gifted and talented’, I think
a similar thing is run in lots of schools and I have to be honest, I have mixed
feelings about it.
Firstly I don’t like the name, ‘the gifted and talented programme’ – it implies that
only these kids are gifted and talented, when the truth is, that we all are
gifted, just in different ways.
So
Basically it takes kids who are already gifted and makes them more so, or it
offers them opportunities to become better at something they are already good
at.
This
annoys me because I’d like to see others having these opportunities. Many kids
would develop an interest in something or a love of something if they just had
the opportunity. I hated sport at school, I wasn’t terrible I just wasn’t one
of the best, so I never got picked for teams and or to go to extra training.
But as an adult I started a womens cricket team and I learned that I love
running… That was missed at school.
So what I’m saying is that this series is about opportunity,
that just because you don’t know you’re gifted in an area, doesn’t mean you
aren’t – here’s your chance to find out about areas you might not have
considered before
On the other hand, last
year at my sons school there was a debate amongst the parents last year about
who would be picked for the first team in football and rugby. One group of mums
said that their boys weren’t getting a fair go because they never got picked
for the team whilst the other group said, our boys are best at football so
that’s why they are chosen. Now you could take this 2 ways. You could say
everyone should have a go, or you can say, they are playing to win and the best
boys should be picked. After all, as one of the mums said to me, my son is not
academic, but he is good at football. He wouldn’t get picked for a spelling challenge or a maths
competition for the school and I wouldn’t expect him to – the kids who get
picked for that are the ones who are best at spelling or maths. So why should
it be different for football?
So
what is my point?
We’re all gifted in different ways and there is no point in trying to be
like someone else who has a gift that you want. We
ARE all different. We need to recognize that! We are ALL gifted and talented.
We all have different giftings, different talents, different ways of doing
things and that’s how it should be! Gosh how boring would it be, and how
difficult to get things done if we were all good at the same things! So we need to recognise that we are
different and that some of us have gifts in areas others don’t, but equally we
need to know what those gifts are – and we need opportunities to find out.
So lets look at the ‘One’//
You
know I stand here and look out and I see a bunch of amazing people! And I mean
ALL of you! God has made you all in exactly the way he wanted. You are all
completely unique. and different. So you have different likes and dislikes, you
have different characteristics, you come from different places, work in
different places you are perfectly unique, AND we are all gifted differently
too. 
The
bible says we are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’ Psalm 139 –
Lets
look at that from the message version which puts it slightly differently:
13-16
MSG

 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re
breathtaking!

Body and
soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know
me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was
made, bit by bit,
 how I was
sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow
from conception to birth;
 all the
stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all
prepared
before I’d even lived one day.

I wonder how many of us can say that about ourselves – that we actually believe that we are marvelously made? Do you think
of yourself that way – like a work of art, carefully sculpted and created?
Because that is the truth! God has created us all to be who we are. Unique and
gifted individuals.  That’s the first
thing we need to take on board – that we are special to God – do you know who
you are in Christ? Truly?
And
part of the way he has created each of us, is with gifts. Gifts given from a
loving heavenly father, gifts that will shape
our lives gifts, that will help is to shape other peoples lives, gifts that
will lead us along paths we had never imagined possible.
Who has seen the Narnia movies? Or read the books obviously? There’s a great bit in
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, where Father Christmas shows up and gives
the kids a present each. Each one is different, personal to the child, but each
one also has a use as he explains to them and their part in it. Eg: Lucy
dagger. Not in the battle. In the book, he also hands them a tray of hot tea,
which I don’t think made it to the movie. Buts it’s a great illustration of the
gifts God gives to us as individuals, with a purpose for each. But I like the
tea too, because it shows that gifts are not just for a purpose but to show
love and compassion, kindness, and here of a shared need – sitting in the
rapidly thawing snow, cold, probably hungry after a long journey and here is
something to warm them up. Spiritual gifts from God are not just for purpose but to
enrich our lives…
Does that make sense?
So, the many//
So we
are individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made, but we are also part of a whole, part of the body. We are united in our
love of Jesus, and in this church
. Throughout planning for this series, God
has been speaking to me about recognising
the gifts and the amazing people
we have in this church. As we are moving
into this new season in our church it is going to be so important for us to
work together, as a family, a community, not just the leadership team telling
you what we’re doing and where we are going but we are on this journey together
and we all have a part to play in it.
Later
in 1 Cor 12: 17

17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If
the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But
in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he
wanted them to be.

God has
placed them, just as he wanted to be – if you’re in this church, not by chance
or accident, it’s because God wants you here. Simple as that! So what’s your
role? What’s your gift? What’s your place?
Thoughts on series// diff people…
Well,
I think there will probably be some of you sat there thinking well I know what
my gifts are and I’m using them, or maybe you’ve heard teaching on giftings
before. But I would like to say to you, this is a new season for all of us. For
us as a church specifically, and we are walking into the future of The Point
together – So maybe God wants to talk to you about using your gifts in a new
way in this season? Or perhaps he has a different plan for you, or maybe even
he wants to gift you in a new and exciting way. So let’s all be open to hearing
what he has to say through this series.
Then
I think there will be some of you who maybe have an idea or an inkling of how
God has gifted you but perhaps you are not sure what to do with it, or don’t
know how to develop that gifting, or maybe you are sensing a new season for
you… Well now is your chance to learn more, or get some training, really step
into what God has for you…
And
lastly, if you are sitting there thinking well I haven’t got a clue what you
are talking about, or I don’t have any idea if God has gifted me, then this
series is definitely for you! You can learn, listen and seek God. God has a
plan and purpose for every single one of us!
So…
this series is for all of us – as individuals and as part of the body. We are
one and we are many.
Why are gifts given? ///
I was
quite interested in why gifts are given to people and I think there are 4
reasons:
1:
Honouring 2: Occasion  3: Purpose/need 4:
Love
Let’s
look at why we give gifts…
1.HONOUR:
As an
honour – a way of honouring other people. For example
You
know when a foreign digniatry visits a member of the royal family they always
bring a gift. Sometimes they can seem completely bizarre…
So
for example during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II she has received the
following:
she has
received lacrosse sticks, sunglasses, a pair of sandals, pineapples, eggs, a
box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, a dozen tins of of tuna and 7kg of
prawns.
Probably the
most unusual of all the gifts that have been presented to The Queen are the
many live animals.
These include
several horses,
among them a
canary from Germany, jaguars and sloths from Brazil, two black beavers from
Canada, two young giant turtles from the Seychelles and an elephant called
Jumbo from the Cameroon.
 (And unlike our
worldy royalty, who send off many of their gifts, to an appropriate place, an
animal to a zoo, ancient boat to the British Museum and so on. Our gifts from
our heavenly Father are not bizarre or to be put in a glass cabinet or given
away, they are perfect and good gifts, for a heavenly purpose.) so we can
honour him in using those gifts

Who you are is God’s gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God.

Danish proverb

2:
OCCASION
Birthday,
celebration, anniversary. as a token of celebration, also a token of love. Marking
an occasion.  A reminder of something
good that has happened
So for example we might mark the arrival of a new baby with something like a tankard or some silverware – something for life but a reminder of that moment.
How
about in a more Christian sense, at baptism, the Pastor prays for people to
receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism… and at confirmation, the
Bishop does the same.
3:
PURPOSE/NEED
My
Dad for example for my childhood his Christmas list consisted of pants and
socks, and the odd item for his toolbag.
Things
with a purpose. Things with a use. Also benefited others.
4:
LOVE
Tokens
of love
Just
something to show a person you care – might also be for an occasion, but it
shows your love. For example an item of jewellery. And sometimes we can be
quite ungrateful can’t we? Phil once bought me a ring, which I only wore once
or twice and it was only when we sold it at a carboot in the summer that he
told me how much it actually cost! I felt slightly bad about that…!
Anyway…
point is gifts can be a token of love
Receive
in the same vein that its given…
So why
does God gift us – I think all of those above. Above all because he loves us
but sometimes it’s for a purpose – if he has a task for us to do he will give
us all that we need to accomplish it.
So
why does God give us these gifts? In James 1 it says this:

Every good
and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  James 1:17

Or Luke 12

32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to
give you the kingdom.    Luke 12:32

Or

  “Which of you, if your
son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a
fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil,
know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in
heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!    Mathew 7:9-11

It is
in Gods nature to gift us, he created us to be different but these are also gifts,
pleasurable things from our father.
Some
gifts are life long, they go with us through thick and thin – others may be
used just for a time – for a purpose, a season…
And
of course the most amazing gift of all is Gods GRACE – which is there
for all of us, the most amazing gift to us all. We don’t deserve it but we get
it anyway.
GIFTS//
So
let’s have a look at what I mean when I am talking about spiritual gifts or how
God has gifted you…
Not
talking about talents…
The
passages that we are looking at throughout this series specifically refer to
different spiritual giftings, for example did you know being a good
administrator’ is a gift from God, one I’m particularly delighted by – always
joke about admin being boring, although I happen to be good at it, but since
discovering that I’ve looked at it in a different light.
Or
how about being a good encourager: Exhortation/ Encouragement


The divine enablement to present truth so as to strengthen, comfort or urge
to action those who are discouraged or wavering in their faith. Mentioned
in
Or the five
fold leadership giftings mentioned in Ephesians 4:
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the
pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service,
so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach
unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,
attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Christ
gave these roles, in order to build up his people, to serve the body of Christ,
UNTIL we all reach unity in the faith and……
Often
bible tells us what its for or how it should be used… like eph 4.
Also
list of gitings on the website – ones mentioned in these passages plus a few
others that Bruce Bugbee uses in his book, to provide consistency. So something
he uses is the gift of craftsmanship – look at exodus, building of the temple,  Exodus 31:

31 Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I
have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and
I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with
knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs
for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to
work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.

Are
you a creative type?
AIM// FINISH WITH THIS
I
have a real desire. God has really put on my heart this sense of us all walking in the fullness of who
God has made us to be
. I want to encourage people, I want to see people
realising who God made them to be, what God is calling them to, what plans he
has for them, how he has gifted them. It’s no good standing there thinking I
wish I could sing like Julie, or I wish I could preach like Will, or I wish I
could do that…. This IS ABOUT WHO YOU
ARE. We need to think, who has God made me to be – how has he made ME? what
does he have planned for me.
This
church has over 250 names on the books and yet there is a fairly small number
of people who really engage with it and us with you TBH. Now this isn’t a
guilt-fest why are you not on a team, type talk. It’s a rally cry to your heart
– are you fulfilling your potential. I look around this hall and I see so much
potential. I see people who have such a heart to care for people, to help
people, to just be there with people. I see dynamic, fired up people who just
want to share the gospel wherever they go, I see people who have a gift for
teaching, who can make the most confusing things seem so simple and accessible.
There are people here who God has given a passion to all kinds of crazy things
and yet somewhere, somehow those passions get stuck, or perhaps are not yet
even realised.
How
many of you feel like you are not fulfilling your purpose here on this earth?
how many of you feel like you don’t know what your purpose is – are you just
putting one foot in front of the other and just keep going…?
Let’s embrace this…

Loving the whole church (still)

So this is a subject I keep coming back to, but I just feel passionate about the idea of the church being completely loving – loving itself. I love my little corner of the church and I know which bit I prefer to worship in, but I also recognise that it’s all Gods church and who am I to say which bit is ok and which isn’t? God has made all kinds of different people and they all need to meet him in different ways, and so, we have a vast and broad church. Makes sense to me…

There’s been all kinds of stuff recently, been flying around about some people within the Catholic church being not all that happy with some of what Pope Francis has been saying. Personally, and clearly I am not a Catholic, I think he’s amazing. 

How about these for a few of his latest tweets: (follow him @pontifex or in spanish: )

7h

The mystery of the Cross, a mystery of love, can only be understood in prayer. Pray and weep, kneeling before the Cross.

The secret of Christian living is love. Only love fills the empty spaces caused by evil.
Where we find hate and darkness, may we bring love and hope, in order to give a more human face to society.

This is a man who can unite people in love, and that is a big part of what we’re called to do..
My week has been full of church contrasts. So, Sunday I was at a study weekend and the morning worship was not really to my taste if I’m honest, it was very liturgical and I found it hard to meet God in that. But I know there were others there who really did meet God in that. I once met a guy who has a level of autism and he said for him, the comfort of well known words and prayers was vastly helpful to him. The disorder, as he would see it, of my church would leave him cold, he would not find it worshipful or restful!  In total contrast to the morning, I got home and went to our evening celebration. This was noisy, loud, an assault to the senses if you like, but to me it was fantastic! I felt God’s presence, I met him in the music, I met him in the people, I met him in the message that was preached.
Yesterday I went to London, to the London School of Supernatural Ministry (yes, yes insert Hogwarts jokes here, many do…) for a morning with Bernie Ooley, from the school at Bethel church in the US. It was pretty radical (although not as radical as some places I’ve been), there was raucous laughter during the worship, people falling over all over the place, spontaneous singing, prophetic words given out, and some amazing teaching. That was the morning. In the afternoon I went to chapel at my kids public school, where there was a very solemn organ (which actually sounds rather Harry Potter-esque at the end !), lots of liturgy and a sermon. 
Which of these did I meet God in? – well both. In the morning in a free, loving, anything goes kind of way, and in the afternoon in a structured, I need to think about this way.
but also, in the morning, in a structured teaching way, lots of stuff to take away and think about, and in the afternoon, in a loving way, sharing with the person sat next to me, hearing my 7 year old daughter pray ‘her version’ of the Lords prayer in the service…
You want to tell me that the Catholic church is evil? or that the charismatic church is encountering demons? or that the liberal church has lost it’s heart? or that the African church is intolerant? Well, I’m not going to listen. It’s all God’s church…
I’m reading a great book called Christianity Rediscovered at the mo (it’s on my reading list for the Mission part of my course) and it’s all about a guy who goes out to be a missionary to the Masai tribe. Can’t lie I got it because it was £2 on Amazon, I needed a few off the list and my book grant does not go very far. But it’s amazing. This guy goes out to evangelise the Masai and, I guess obviously, has to completely rethink mission in order to do it. Church in the Masai looks nothing like church in the UK that’s for sure. And that’s absolutely right! They live their lives in a completely different way to us, so why would church be the same? And it’s like that for us, ok we might all live in a rich country (well, that’s debatable) but we are so different so why would we expect people to be able to meet God in the same way? It just doesn’t make sense…
So it’s funny, the college I’m at was not my first choice, but I know it’s where God wants me, and I think part of that is about learning from other parts of the church, and in that sense others learning from me too. The church gets slated all the time, yes ALL the time, for it’s disunity, and that drives me round the bend! We all love Jesus, we all serve Jesus, can’t we agree on that?
Bernie, in her talk yesterday, was talking prophetically about the UK – in her words ‘the UK is trending right now in the spiritual realm’ – love that! – She was talking about how she believes that the UK is going to be at the forefront of showing unity in the church. Man, I pray that she is right. What an amazing legacy that would be…
Love your church :)

Quick update

Ah, my poor neglected blog. What with a new term, a load of stuff going on at church, starting college and just generally trying to keep a lid on life, I have sadly neglected my blog, and that’s sad because I have so much stuff I want to write about. I’m learning some amazing stuff at college – who’d have thought I, yes I, would find liturgy so interesting…? what is going on there…? Well you know they say the Lord works in mysterious ways… (or was that U2…).

So a quick update before I plan some highly theological posts (or not)

// Had another study weekend away – which was AWE-SUM. Had an amazing guy come and teach us about Mission which is one of my favourite subjects anyway, and he was so inspiring, so knowledgable and so wise, it was great. Not so great is still the ‘leaving the family for the weekend’ thing which I’m not sure I’ll get used to, but that’s probably a good thing in a funny kind of way.

// Also just loving college generally and it’s funny because it’s not at all what I thought it would be, in fact it’s far better and I’m just getting so inspired…

// Preaching this Sunday – cannot wait – love doing this – and not in a ‘hey look at me’ kind of way, because frankly I have no idea why people would want to hear what I have to say, but you know, I just really enjoy it, I love saying ‘hey God, what do you want me to share this time’ and seeing what he does. Also launching a new teaching series this Sunday, which I have put together which is also a bit of a trip, I mean, seriously my amazing boss has trusted me to put this together and let me run with it. I have never been in a job like that, or had a boss like it. So no pressure there then… ;) Seriously though, really excited about what God is going to do with it all, really feels such a good place for our church to be at the mo.

// Dyed my hair a different shade..

// Entered this blog competition… so go check it out, some great entries to read…

// Just feeling like I’m right where God wants me. It’s funny because I’ve been wavering over that for a while, but starting college, my job, one of my kids being at a different school, it’s just, well it’s just right. It’s a really nice, peaceful feeling, like God has been manouvering all these pieces into place and now they’re going to sit there for a while (hmm, famous last words of course)

// Oh and also, so excited we’re taking the kids to Eurodisney in a few weeks. woop!

So that’s where I’m at…