Saturday, July 22, 2006

Darkness + love

The weather reflected my view of the world today: it was dark and oppressive. Man, what a messed up world we live in. Why does God allow it? Really, why does he allow such rubbish to happen to people? One day we'll know. What hope is there through the darkness? What is there to cling to in the rubbish? What can I say to a friend who through no fault of her own is having her freedom removed for the foreseeable future? There is only one hope - that is God and his unfailing love for us. How great is Romans 8:31-39 - its just brilliant - here's a small bit re-written to apply directly to my frineds and me:
'Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall depression or loneliness, or persecution or bereavement or pain or broken-heartedness? No, in all these we are more than conquerers through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither borderline personality disorder nor chronic fatigue syndrome, neither old age nor visual impairment, neither divorce, nor cancer, nor any psat involement in the occult, neither psychiatric hospitals nor nursing homes, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to seperate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' That is true hope - that is why we can keep going, and keep supporting others to keep going.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Missing Mission

Well its that time of year when lots of people I know bog off to far flung places of the globe to tell people about Jesus for a few weeks. And I'm jealous. I'm jealous for two reasons:
Firstly - I'm jealous of the new experience they will have, engaging with different cultures and trying new things are always exciting (and I would add I'm jealous of the weather they'll have but hey its probably hotter here!! yuk!)
Secondly - I'm jealous of the fact they will be depending utterly on God, and being taught new things, and reminded again of the old.
But - as always I'm being silly. Yes missions are great and they are well exciting, but why do I limit God? Why do I think that just coz I'm staying in Cambridge over the summer he can't teach me new things about himself? Why can't I still live radically here, why can't I learn to depend utterly on him in my day-to-day life. Why don't I expect to see him use me to bring people closer to him whilst I'm at home? God does not just work in Bulgaria, Ecuador and Cambodia, he works in Glebe Road too, AND Lichfield Hall AND even Hinton Grange - and I can be part of that. That is exciting. (+ culture wise - I know loads of people from differnt cultures, I'll just have to invite myself round to their houses and get them to teach me their culture!)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Were you born in the 1960s??

Yes - someone actually seriously asked me that question yesterday.... how bizarere - no I haven't just aged well ... I wasn't alive in the 1960s or the 70s for that matter...
Right, now as I start this post, I realise it is at risk from sounded a bit like something Bish would write... but what I experienced yesterday did wind me up and I want to process my thoughts on the matter.
When reaching people with the gospel - is it most effective to try and reach people of your own age / stage of life??
Well this question has been kncocking around in my brain for a while, but it came to the front yesteday, as I went to a conference on reacihng the elderly for Christ. I've rambled about elderly minsitry quite a bit on this blog - God has taught me so much about him and about loving people through it this year. But I didn't quite realise until yesteday quite how seemingly unique our Elderly Team is at Rock. I reckon we have about 17 volunteers who are either invovled in going into homes to do services and chat to people on Sundays or are invovled in Diamonds Cafe - out Friday afternoon outreach to the elderly in our community. I can only think of 2 of our team who are over 50. The majority of the team are in their 20s-30s. And apparently this is weird. At the conference yesteday, we were pretty much the only under 50s. I felt like I was about 12 - and sadly I also felt people were a bit scared of me becasue I'm young. The conference was totally geared toward over 50s and alienated us at times (for example when were asked to turn to our neighbour and discuss our memeories of the 1960s ... ummm.. hello??) But obviously generally in churches it is older people who work with older people. In a way I can see that this is great - we need Christian elderly people witnessing to their friends through the hardships of being old. But should it be older people alone doing the work? Should we be made to feel like freaks when we express an interst in reaching out to the elderly. Well - no we shouldn't. Our old people love the fact that we're young, that we're taking an interest in them, when most of our contemparies in society disregard them as useless. Surely this is a powerful witness to the gospel - we vaule the elderly where others don't as we know they are made in the image of God, and they need to know their Creator. And also, that in Jeus there is no longer Greek or Jew, circumsied or uncircumsied, slave or free... old or young? We are all one in Christ. The gospel breaks down the dividing wall of hositility that was formerly there. In Ephessians 2, this wall is between Jew and Gentile - surely the biggest wall ever, the barrier between the 'chosen people of God' and those who weren't. How much more should the gospel break down every other barrier our society tries to put up. I think more young poeple should be involved in work with the elderly - I think its a great witness to the gospel (and as young person who wasn't really up for the work when I was first asked to do it, I know that younger people can also learn sooo much through it). However, I think too often in churhces it is so normal to have people segregated. The older people work with the elderly and wouldn't dream of suggesting to a younger psrson that they might like to get invovled (maybe because they don't think they'd be able to relate, or maybe due to mistrust that there is in our society between the older and younger generations has seeped into out thinking). The students reach out to the students, the mums with small children reach out to the mums with small children, youth workes are ofent not much older than the youth themselves. And in a way this is good. I'm a pasionate believer in UCCF who believe that students are the best people to reach students. And its ture - poeple who are at the same life stage as you are easiest to relate to - you share similar experiences which you can talk about, and often spend a lot of time togehter doing similar things (both of which are obvious ways for Christians to witness). But should this be the exclusive way we work? Surely we should be showing the world that the gospel breaks down all barriers that the world tries to impose on us. Shouldn't it be more common for older people to be involved in youth and students work. Why is it so unusal for young people to be reaching out to the older generation?
I suppose I've been considering this question a lot espeically as I look to move jobs. I've loved my time at Rock, working with popele aged from 0-97. And I have found it tough to relate to people at differnt life stages to me, but it hasn't been impossible - I've still been able to share the gospel with poeple who are very different from me. But from September I'm going back to be working a lot with students - with a group I find it easy to relate to, in a church which doesn't have such a wide age range. But I don't want to forget the lessons I've learnt at Rock - I don't want to just slip back into the group I feel comfortable with and just let the usual segregation that happens in churches go on. I want to be encouraging Christians to mix with people who are differnt to themselves, because that is how we will most fully be the body of Christ, and a shining witness to the gospel which breaks down all barriers.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Heaven is Real!!

"Finally I want to tell you that there is a heaven. The Christian life certianly is not a playground. It is a battlefield. You will have to face the world, the flesh and the devil. I wish I could tell you that you will never struggle with temptation again. But I can't. I wish I could tell you that you will meet Miss Wonderful, fall madly in love and live happily ever after. But I can't. All I can promis you is wet eyes, a broken heart and a joy that cmes through walking with Jesus. But there is one thing that I want to remind you of and that is that this life with all its struggles and woes is not all. Heaven is for real. Count on it. One day we who beleive in our Lord Jesus Christ will be rid of our sinful bodies and will live in a brand new world. We will be free from all sin, al frustrations, all restrictions, all limitation and corruption. One thing is certain. The moment we enter into heaven, we will know for sure that 'All the present sufferings of this present time will not be worhy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us'. All our sufferings - pysical, mental, emotional, psychological, sexual, relational and spiritual will be over forever." Bill Bygraves

Hooray! Heaven is real! One day I will have a perfect resurrectin body, which will not hurt, which will not sin, which will be perfect and whole. This week I've struggled with the usual pain in my eyes, I've struggled to support a friend through emotional pain, and of course I've struggled with my own sinfulness - my rebellious heart. I'm so glad that this world is not all there is - how depressing would it be if it was. I've been 'reading' High Society by Ben Elton - its a book about drugs, but more than that, its a book about broken people. About people trying to make life feel fulfilled by attempting to stuff their yearning hole inside themselves with drugs, with sex, with fame, with relationships. None of them satisfy, they gerneally just make people more broken. But that is all the world has to offer - try and numb the pain of this world with short term solutions. None of them work. Now it seems a bit cheesy for for me to go, its only God that will satisfy, only he can fill the God shaped hole. But it is true. Our creator is the only one in whom we will find ultimate safiscation. But I know that even as a Christian I'm not fully satisfied. I know that often my sinful heart desires things other than God, it gets drwan in to drying to fill the emptiness with earthly things. I struggle to be satisfied with God alone. But it won't always be like this. In heaven, I won't struggle to be satisfied I will know God fully - I will see him face to face (wow - I'll be able tos ee faces!!) and be completely satisfied - knowing that the only reason I am there is because Jesus loved to enough to die. What a great Savriou. What a great hope.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sstans kickings

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upwards I look and see Him there,
Who made an end to all my sin
For God the just is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me
To look on him and pardon me

I hate it when Satan gives me a good kicking. I've spent a lot of time this week mulling over what a sinful wretch I am and wondering how God could ever love me. This isn't necessarily a bas thing, as long as I ocme to the conclusion that for some bizarre reason God does love me, even though I let him down tiem and time again, he loved me enough to send his Son to die so that my sinful soul can be counted free. I've just got back from Diamonds Cafe - an outreach to the over 60s in our local community that I set up 2 months ago. Now, I love Diamonds and God is already doing great things in it. We were small in number today, bu the gosepl was proclaimed. There is one women who God is blatantly persuing, she opens up more and more each time and talks to us about where she is spiritually, and how she would like that to change. And all of them today expressed an interst in coming to a community bbq that Rock is putting on. God is doing stuff through Diamonds and I should be jumping up and down with joy - but today I'm not. Today, I was very aware of wearing a mask at the end of Diamonds - I wore a mask of positivity - praising the team (who had done a great job) and saying how exciting I was about what God's doing, but inwardly I was crying. Inwardly there was a voice (which is still there actually) going 'You're rubbish - you are rubbish'. There were a few practical things that I did badly this afternoon, and Satan's trying to get a grip on me because of them , trying to condemn me. But I'm not going to let him - I'm not going to wallow in self pity. I choose not to - I choose to look upward, to my sinless saviour who died for me. It is true that I am rubbish, in fact, I'm more rubbish than I ever imagined, but I am more loved than I could ever dream. I have no right to be involved in God's work, but for some reason he chooses to use me in it. And if God graciously chooses to use me in his work - who I am to quesiton him for that. Yes, I am rubbish, but God's grace is big enough for me. Hooray for Him!

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we prfess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathesise with our weaknesses,but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-15