About Me

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Treasure Hunting

There's nothing I like more than being able to share the love of God with others who don't know him. Today I went out treasure hunting with a group of guys from other churches in the area (including Adam who blogs here.) to do just that.

This week, 8 churches in our local area have got together and run a 24-7 prayer room (this is the third year we have done this) and this year we had the amazing opportunity to use an empty shop unit right in the centre of town. The whole thing has been amazing, God has brought so many people in, there have been wonderful opportunities to pray with people, just awesome worship nights, late night/early morning experiences with the Holy Spirit. just amazing.

Anyway, as part of this we organised a group to go out treasure hunting. I may have written about this before, but the idea is you pray for clues so that God can guide you to the right person, your 'treasure'. Then hopefully you can talk to them, and pray with them. It's a great way of getting out and sharing God's word and doing street ministry, and I love how it gives people confidence because they have something to look for, rather than randomly walking around! It's also great to show your 'treasure' how God has led you to them by showing them the clues.

In actual fact today I didn't find anyone from my list! but God did show me people to approach and we had the wonderful opportunity to pray with several people including one man whose marriage was failing and a woman who needed prayer for healing.

Some people in the group had really profound encounters, for example one chap revealed all kinds of things in his life, a lot of hurt and pain and by the end was agreeing to come to church tomorrow! Praise God! 

I've been really wanting to do more of this stuff and it has been hard to get others enthused but today feels like a turning point and I know that we will do this again!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Changes and Trust

So, last week was an interesting one, with some real extremes of emotion and life changing things happening and yet although I started writing this post last week, it's only now on reflection I realise how bonkers a week it all was and how many changes were occurring!

So at the beginning of the week we got confirmation of our youngest daughters place at her new school, for September. This will mean that all my kids will now be at school or college outside of the village in which we live. It's a real end of an era, the village here is a real community, my youngest was a baby when we moved here and has grown up with the kids in the village. Her best friend lives round the corner, I'm pretty sure that one day she will marry her friend who lives a few doors away and my son told me once that he's going to marry the pub Landlords daughter... !!  Pretty much everyone knows each other here, people look out for each other, it's like a little bubble. It will be so strange not seeing everyone at the school gate each day and not walking across the fields to school or scooting down the road, (or screeching at the kids for not looking when they cross the road...) But at the same time I know this is all part of God's plan because I couldn't really start my course in September with them all at different schools. Logistically it would be a nightmare, but at the new one they have after school facilities too, which will cover when I need to be at college or studying. 

And on that note, I also had my interview for college last week, had my place confirmed and am about to send off my acceptance letter. So it's official, come September I will be a student again and rather at the mercy of the Church of England... Most of you will know this wasn't the college I wanted to go to originally, and whilst I feel very peaceful about going there and I'm sure it's all part of God's plan, it is slightly bitter sweet too.

And then on Thursday, our new Archbishop was enthroned. Although I'm going into the CofE I'm not madly into the traditions of it and all, but I found myself weeping as I watched him bash on the door of Canterbury Cathedral and then be let in. In that moment I knew, I just knew, that he is the right man for the job. He is going to transform this church, of that I am sure. And suddenly the worries about the organisation I am going to be part of, of how I will fit into their mould, the anxiety about wanting to be a positive and yet forward thinking influence, all disappeared and I knew that with this man at the head of the Anglican church, we, and therefore I, am going to be fine. Really can't put into words how that felt, but so exciting and reassuring at the same time.

And then just half an hour later I got some news that very dear friends of ours are moving away. There followed many tears. Funny how that happens sometimes, such extremes. Almost like God actually knows what's going ;)

And I really struggled with that news, when I got home I was a bit of a wreck if I'm honest and I couldn't understand why I was being so emotional (and it couldn't all just be 'the time of the month'!) but as I look back now I can see exactly why, because the news of our friends moving was like looking in a mirror. Ok so we aren't moving (yet!) but pretty much everything else in our lives is going to change in just a few months time. So I think I had a moment of revelation, the dawning realisation that God will be the only constant in my life. And I don't say that from a bitter or broken place, actually from a good one, but I guess with it comes the knowledge that walking this path really won't be that easy, there will be  more pain, there will be people we will get close to and then our lives will take different paths, there will be situations I cannot possibly handle on my own; and more, so much more.

And every time I think I get a handle on where God is taking us, or what his plans are, he pulls the rug out from under me. Again. Just when I start to feel comfortable, it all changes. So the realisation is also that whilst God has a plan for us, I literally have no clue what that plan is!  But amongst all that, even feeling unsettled and unsure at times, in all these things I have felt, he has also given me deeper faith, more trust and an all consuming desire to just live for Him.

So, last week was really the culmination of several steps in His master plan. Really hoping there won't be too many weeks like that one, but looking forward to the next loop on the roller coaster ;)

This post will also be appearing on my Wordpress blog here

Friday, 22 March 2013

What We talk About When We Talk About God - Rob Bell // Book Review

I have to admit I don't know a huge amount about Rob Bell, I haven't read any of his books and I'm not sure I'm likely to, but his name crops up more and more and so when someone offered to write a book review as guest post, I thought it was about time I took a bit more interest. So the fab and very interesting Sam Hailes who blogs at Holy Man Sam, has written a review of Rob Bells latest book 'What We Talk About When We Talk About God' and you can check it out below. I'm sure he'd be up for engaging with others opinions so do leave comments below or tweet him...

'What We Talk About When We Talk About God' by Rob Bell

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

The young hipster named Rob Bell planted his first and only church in February 1999. Leviticus isn’t the book of the Bible you’re supposed to start preaching through with a brand new congregation, but Rob Bell hadn’t read the “church planting manual”. Right from the beginning of his ministry, Rob’s creativity and out of the box thinking has not only won him a huge audience, but attracted widespread criticism. 

NOOMA was massive and his weekly Mars Hill preaches were downloaded by thousands. But it was the pastor’s last book that really set the cat among the pigeons. His entire catalogue is now likely to be divided up and viewed in two halves: Pre Love Wins and post Love Wins.

That’s right, Rob Bell’s last book, which (in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last 2 years) discussed heaven and hell simultaneously enraged and reassured Christians around the world. 

In stark comparison, his new release, 'What We Talk About When We Talk About God' is straightforward and largely noncontroversial. It’s both fascinating and unremarkable.

The Rob Bell protestors haven’t forgiven the man they view as a heretic. And those hoping for a confession in 'Talk About God' will be disappointed. The new book doesn’t even mention Love Wins, let alone make an apology for it.

Rob’s three main points in 'Talk About God' are God is WITH us, FOR us and AHEAD of us. The average Christian probably won’t be bowled over by these words. But the way Rob unpacks the ideas is inspiring. 

“With” because, “I believe God is with us because I believe that all of us are already experiencing the presence of God in countless ways every single day." Rob explains this idea through a fairly lengthy excursion into particle physics!

"For” because “I believe God is for every single one of us, regardless of our beliefs or perspectives or actions or failures or mistakes or sins or opinions about whether God exists or not.” 

“Ahead” because “when I talk about God, I'm not talking about a divine being who is behind, trying to drag us back to a primitive, barbaric, regressive, prescientific age when we believed Earth was flat and the center of the universe.”

It’s this last word, “ahead” which is the least convincing. Just as 'Love Wins' was a below average attempt at justifying a form of universalism, Rob’s new book is in part a below average attempt to justify a way of reading the bible known as “trajectory hermeneutics”. That’s not to say either arguments are definitely wrong, just that Rob’s points aren’t as strong as they could be.

The other issue is that as Trevin Wax notes over on The Gospel Coalition: “God is ahead of us, beckoning society forward, and (how convenient!) it just so happens to be in the direction that society is already headed. Who would have thought?

The book is quite hard to pin down. It’s like Velvet Elvis in that it’s exceptionally subjective but still very insightful. It’s a thinkers book, but as always it’s written at a popular level. This combination of deep thinking and accessibility continues to make Rob Bell one of the most interesting Christian(?) authors you could ever hope to read.

'Talk About God' is likely to impact those outside of the church as much as those within it. Some of the early chapters form a strong argument against the new atheism. But much of Rob’s writing seems to be aimed not at just atheists, but theists who are disillusioned with church. 

You could argue 'Talk About God' is the book that confirms Rob’s ministry hasn’t changed much over the past 15 years. He’s still after the same people - attempting to draw them away from Christian fundamentalism and towards a form of Christian liberalism. If like me, you’re caught somewhere in between those two extremes, this book will help you both think and talk about God. 

Sam Hailes, 23 is a Freelance Journalist based in Southampton, UK. He tweets @samhailes and blogs at holymansam.wordpress.com

Friday, 8 March 2013

Thank You

So during Lent, as a family, we have been taking part in the 40 acts challenge. ...
todays task is to say thank you. So I started to make a list of a few people who I could specifically thank today and it just got out of hand. So I started writing this... (and these are just a few!)...

Mum, Dad, Thank You. Thank you for giving me a Christian grounding in life. Thank you for teaching me to live life to the full. Thank you for taking care of all my needs when I couldn't. Thank you for putting up with my teenage angst and not chucking me out. Thank you for being an example of good marriage (40 years and counting...). Thank you for helping me when I turned up single and pregnant. Thank you for being amazing grandparents. Thank you for being there.

To my husband. Thank you for putting up with my crazy schemes, for not clipping my wings, for letting me fly even when it terrified you! Thank you for being the calming influence on my craziness. Thank you for our beautiful children. Thank you that you took my daughter on as your own and are an amazing Dad.

To my kids. Thank you for being you. For being part of my life, for every day reminding me how amazingly blessed I am. Thank you for loving me, even when I am grumpy and tired. 

Thank you to Pete, who led my youth group and for the first time in my life fired an interest in Jesus. That has been my grounding, all these years just waiting to be built upon.

Thank you Mr Coulson for being an awesome history teacher. You only taught me for a year but even now I love history !

Thank you to the lovely people who volunteer and run our village cafe, one of the few things that brings the community together. And to our amazing pub Landlords, who have turned the village pub into a wonderful place to have fun with friends, eat delish food and just hang out.

Thank you to Julie. Long standing friend who has always been there for me. She's seen the ups, the downs, the down right horrid and the celebrations. Thank you for your wisdom, your love, your generosity and your time.

Thanks to the people who have encouraged me in this crazy journey into ministry. Will, James, Philip, Keith, and loads more. Thanks for putting up with the denials, the walking the other way, the anger, and the tears (of which there have been plenty...). Thanks for encouraging me on this path, giving me opportunities, teaching me, correcting me and supporting me. You are all fab!

Thanks to my art college friends who showed me a new way to see life. What totally bonkers times we had! Graham, Sarah, Ollie; college would have been so dull without you...

Village peeps, Leandra, Nikki, Sarah x 4, Anne, Di x 2, Frances, Wendy, Louise, Sarah, Lou, Michelle, and the rest. Thanks for being in my life, for making living here such amazing fun and a joy.

Thanks to the baker who came every Saturday morning as a kid and brought us donuts. Love that memory! Thanks to our neighbours who let us collect eggs from the hens and eat honey fresh from the comb.

Thanks to my brother for being awesome, challenging, loving, a pain in the backside and hanging my teddy from the window, for being a great laugh and fun to be around...

Thanks to whoever invented chocolate. Legend.

and red wine...

Thanks to the milkman and the postman and the dustmen who are smiley and lovely and do their jobs in all weathers!

Thanks to my Nan for awesome recipes

And above all I thank God daily that he wanted to be part of my life.