Month: June 2007

What a glorious feeling…

This Saturday was the annual day trip to Littlehampton. Of all the years I’d been, it has never rained. Today was to be a new experience! I guess the signs were for a wet Saturday as the whole of the previous week had been peppered with showers and downpours. As such, I took my umbrella and fleece thinking I’d be prepared for the worst.

It would appear I’d underestimated. On arrival, it started to rain. Up went the brolly, as my legs got damper by the moment – good job I was wearing shorts. Some of the young people had decided they wouldn’t let the rain dampen their day, so got into their swimming gear and were frolicking in the sea, until they started to freeze. Even spectating from land, I was getting wetter and wetter. It would appear that the water would run down my leg, be absorbed by my sock which would then transmit the water to my foot. The end result being wet feet.

Warm food was the order of the day, and after warming up slightly, a few of us played football on a slightly sodden pitch! 5 goals later and we headed to a church hall, which was booked in case of inclement weather (good thinking Mike),  where we shed our drenched articles of clothing and played games.

After a few hours, we made a brief visit to the Littlehampton Museum and then headed home.

Despite the weather, we enjoyed ourselves as people of all age groups mixed and enjoyed each other’s company. It was also good to mix with those who we didn’t know so well.


Give us this day our daily bread

Q: What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A: In the fourth petition, (which is, “Give us this day our daily bread,”) we pray, That, of God’s free gift, we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

(Question CIV of the Westminster Shorter Catechism)


a.m.: Mark10:26-31 p.m.: Romans 8:1-9

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliott

What Jesus specifically said to the rich young ruler doesn’t apply to all Christians. For Jesus doesn’t require us to sell everything we have necessarily. Rather, if we are to claim Jesus is Lord, he must be Lord of all our lives, he must be put first. For if he is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all. As such, we must surrender all that we have to him and his service. (Of course, this may require us to sell everything we have, depending on what our idols are!)

This may seem extreme, but if we compare what Jesus offers with what we this world offers, there is no comparison. For what Jesus offers is eternal life, to know God. What Jesus offers is fellowship with God. What more could we ask for, but almighty God?

Jesus then lists examples of what people must surrender…

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Mt 19:29

Whatever we have which we have kept from God needs to be surrendered to him. For the world will tell us we must put ourselves first, to only think of the here and now, but Jesus says it will only drag us down and make us last, both in this life and in eternity. For our chief good both in this life and in eternity is intimately tied up with putting ourselves last and putting God first.

Are we clinging onto that which will make us last or first?


Stamina…

After last week’s defeat, a few of the lads decided to do some running and stretching exercises before the football game this afternoon. I’m not sure if it will help, but time will tell. Saying that, the pitch awareness was better with some marking happening, although there was still a little of the bees round a honeypot syndrome.

After a bath and some food, some of the usual suspects came round for some Perudo and Poker.

bedlam.jpg


Heth

You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey your words.
I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees.Ps 119:57-64


Well, this isn’t going so badly :)

This appears to be turning into one of those weeks which is slightly different from usual.

On Monday I think I scored more goals than I’ve done previously playing five-a-side! Not really sure what happened there!

Tuesday a few of the usual suspects came round to watch Clockwise on DVD. One of John Cleese’s more mainstream comedies, typifying British humour to a tee.

This evening was spent down the snooker hall, with Ed and Dave, eventually finishing 3-0-3. 🙂


a.m.: Mark 10:17-31 p.m.: Romans 7:14-25

It would seem the rich young man came up to Jesus expecting to get a pat on the back. He thought he’d kept the commandments, he wasn’t a bad person. Instead of going by appearances though, Jesus looked a little deeper than the young man bargained for.

Jesus’ first response was to ask the man if he knew who he was dealing with when it came to keeping the law of God. This wasn’t just dealing with other men, but with a holy God. A God who is set apart from his creation, who cannot abide sin. A God who is good.

Regarding the law, God is more interested in attitudes than observance. Not only just a case of not murdering someone but not hating anyone. Not only a case of not committing adultery but not having lustful thoughts. Ultimately the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet” comes full circle going for the inner being of a person.

The man had come a cropper at the first hurdle when he asked

“what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Mk 10:17

For it is our attitudes to God and to others which condemn us. A nature which is at enmity with our creator.

What we need is a change of attitude, or to use a more religious word we need to repent. To turn away from sin and turn to God.

Hand in hand with repentance is faith in Jesus. In order to receive eternal life, we need to stop trusting in our own deeds and trust in the deeds of the only one who can save us – Jesus Christ. Jesus knew what would hinder the man from following him, and spelled it out to him. Jesus didn’t say this out of spite, but out of love. For this man had great faith in his possessions, which ultimately would stop him putting his faith in Jesus. It would be his possessions which would stop him having eternal life.

For eternal life is ultimately to know God. In order to know God, we must be made right with God. If we are made right with God, if we are justified by faith, our attitudes change and we will want to seek God’s will and not our own will. We will not cling to the transient, but take hold of that which is permanent.

Are we holding onto anything which would hinder our relationship with our creator?


A lesson in humility

It’s been a while since we last played another church at football. It was good to meet up with some of the lads from Hayes Town Chapel for a six-a-side game at Cranford. Given the score the last time we played them, our 7-1 defeat was a major improvement. It was a good game, and highlighted a few things we need to work on.

The evening was spent at Hayes Town Chapel itself, to listen to a talk on the life of John Newton. It was surprisingly comprehensive and illustrated how God slowly worked in his life, changing him from a slave trader who had no thought for God, to a man reliant on the grace of God, who would eventually seek to tell the world about his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to become a clergyman eventually penning hymns such as Amazing Grace.

The remainder of the evening was spent chilling and recounting stories of previous summers, and wondering what this summer holds in store…


Zayin

Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law.
I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them.
Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law.
Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.
In the night I remember your name, O LORD, and I will keep your law.
This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.Psalm 119:49-56


a.m.: Galatians 2:15-21 p.m.: Romans 7:1-6

As we go through life, we are not to only preach the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? Ja 2:14-16

We are to see to the temporal as well as the spiritual needs of those we meet. For the Christian worldview is not about sitting in a rarified spirituality, but a spirituality that is real and breaks into and permeates the everyday moments of life. Whether this is encouraging young people to pursue a good education, or helping someone to find suitable employment, or seeing that a single mother has sufficient support.

So we are to seek the temporal good of those around us. We must also be careful to note we must always share the gospel with others though. What good is it if we see to the needs of the body, but neglect the needs of the soul? A well-educated person, a comfortably employed person, or a well-supported person will not come to faith in Christ without someone telling them the gospel. For we are all sinners, enslaved by sin and ultimately destined to punishment because of our sin.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. Jn 10:10

If we have eternal life, if we know God and the joy that brings, it would be unkind not to share that life with others.


Happy birthday Susanna!

A very warm humid afternoon! Not so good for running around! However, this was our last chance to practice before our inter-church match next Saturday. After an hour of running around, the score finished at 6-6. How we’ll fare next week, I don’t know, we’ll see!

A quick bath and dinner, and then I was off to Feltham to listen to a talk on hell. A subject which is not spoken about much, both inside and outside the church but one which Jesus talks about frequently. It’s even mentioned in the sermon on the mount. We would be doing a disservice to the world if we glossed over the bible’s teaching on hell, or tried to water it down to make it more acceptable. At the end of the age, we will face eternal punishment because of our sin, unless we have placed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

The rest of the evening was spent celebrating Susanna’s birthday and relaxing after a long day!


He was quite charming, wasn’t he?

It must be just me, but I’ve just been to see Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and I just don’t get it. At the end of the film, I walked out with the same feeling of underwhelming as I did when I saw the first one. Maybe the hype had led me to expect too much.

Sure, the special effects were impressive and the action scenes were imaginative and spectacular. However, the story line was remarkably one-dimensional, being rather predictable and clichéd.

Was I expecting too much from a film derived from an amusement park ride? Possibly. After all, the film was like a good fireworks display, continuously moving along. However, a good fireworks display doesn’t go on for almost three hours!

A fun film, but don’t believe the hype.


a.m.: Jeremiah 1 p.m.: Romans 7:7-13

As Christians, we are here to serve God as his priests in the here and now. The words God spoke to Jeremiah are equally applicable to us.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5

We may not be called to be prophets like Jeremiah, but God has given us gifts and talents for use in his service.

Jeremiah wasn’t so sure of the calling and put up excuses why he couldn’t carry out the will of God. God doesn’t dispute with Jeremiah, but instead tells him to be obedient. After all, God knows Jeremiah better than Jeremiah does! As such we should be mindful of God’s calling and do what he calls us to do. If God calls, we are to do.

All of this would sound unreasonable if God were dependent on us, but instead God calls us to serve him not in our own strength but by his enabling power. By doing the will of God we will be doing what is ultimately best for us.


Happy birthday Dave, Sam and Tim!

Today was one of those hectic Saturday’s where once it starts, it doesn’t stop!

Feltham Cineworld was the first port of call to see Spiderman III. It was only a few of us as most of the usual suspects had already seen it. I must admit, it feels weird going to the cinema in the morning, but it was a little cheaper. 🙂

After the film, we sauntered along to Hounslow to meet up with the usual football crowd for a kickaround. The teams were fairly even, resulting in a 5-4 defeat.

We then dashed over to Old Windsor for a meal at the Harvester restaurant, to celebrate the birthdays of Dave, Sam and Tim. The weather was warm and sunny, and so after the meal we went for a walk along the Thames, and through Runnymede visiting the Magna Carta monument and JFK memorial.

A final convening at my place for a few games of Empire, Consequences and general socialising, then things finally began to wind down!

A fun, but exhausting, day!


I like being bad. It makes me happy.

It’s not every day an action film seen on a busy day gets it’s own review page, but I think Spiderman III is different from the usual action film. I’d gone into the cinema expecting great things, as I’d enjoyed the previous two films in the series.

Unlike most action films, whilst trying not to give too much away, the story isn’t a simple case of the good guys versus the bad guys. Instead, there is some depth to the characters, as each battles within themselves, battling with their own humanity. The struggles of how to treat others, how to treat oneself. How to deal with the highs and lows of popularity and obscurity. How the characters interrelate, their friendships and their relationships, are complex and intriguing. The film even philosophically explores the reasons why we do what we do.

It’s refreshing to see a ‘hero’ dealing with not just the baddies, but with his own desires – both good and bad. Even the baddies have issues, dealing with various issues and in so doing, showing they’re not as bad as they could be in some cases. Both goodies and baddies battle with selfishness which, if left unchecked, has the power to destroy them.

The story is ever so slightly more complex as a result of the internal tussles, and you’re never quite sure how things are going to turn out. Themes such as reconciliation, sacrifice, redemption, forgiveness and salvation loom large throughout.

Of course, being an action film, the special effects and action scenes are superb, with a great sense of pace. Above it all though stands a story which is compelling and, even though in a fantasy world of superheroes, full of very real, very human characters.

A great film which is well worth seeing!