Thursday, 28 January 2016

What is your social media speaking to others?

But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. (Matthew 15:18 NIV)
You know the saying, 'what comes from your mouth is a sign of the state of your heart', but these days I think we can expand that to what we see on your Facebook timeline. Social media has very much become the mouthpiece of our lives hasn't it?
“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45 ESV)
There are times when I am greatly disappointed when looking through my Facebook feed - or Instagram feed - or Snapchat story... because I see people who profess a faith in Jesus posting some pretty worldly stuff, some pretty terrible language and sometimes quite hateful and unkind material.

If questioned about it most times people simply use the excuse that they've just 'shared' it... not actually written it themselves, but why is that any less disappointing?  It has your name on it now... when people see it they connect it to you...

The one that gets me the most is when people think it's fine to use acronyms to insinuate swearing, or blasphemy... but because it is just 2 or 3 letters that makes it ok?  No!  My mind reads that out in full, and so I am sure everyone gets what you're saying... even if you're not meaning to say it. What a pathetic excuse.

On the most part I think we all need to clean up out act on social media.  If we're wanting to shine Jesus in our lives, then we can't taint that by what people read on our walls.  If your Facebook feed is full of bad fruit then you need to question how good a tree is rooted in your life.  It may be time for some serious pruning!

Friday, 22 January 2016

A Wonderful Life

It's a good reminder isn't it?  In our age of social media and celebrity influence we are often bombarded with illusions of perfection.  Often social media is the place to share the things you want people to see - you want people to know you met that person, went to that place, ate that amazing food.  And so often social media shows a very 'one-sided' view of life.

A result of that is we come to thing our life is only good when everything is perfect.  We need to remember there is actually only One who is perfect - and His love means that though my life may not be perfect... my life is wonderful because of Him!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Here's my heart Lord take and seal it!

Come thou fount of every blessing 
Tune my heart to sing thy grace 
Streams of mercy never ceasing 
Call for songs of loudest praise 
Teach me some melodious sonnet 
Sung by flaming tongues above 
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it 
Mount of thy redeeming love 

Here I raise my Ebenezer 
Hither by thy help I come 
And I hope by thy good pleasure 
Safely to arrive at home 
 Jesus sought me when a stranger 
Wondering from the fold of God 
He, to rescue me from danger 
Interposed His precious blood 

O to grace how great a debtor 
Daily I'm constrained to be! 
Let thy goodness like a fetter, 
Bind my wandering heart to thee 
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, 
Prone to leave the God I love 
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, 
Seal it for thy courts above

Been reflecting on the words to this old hymn over the past few weeks and really resonating with the imagery they lead me to.  Music, lyrics, melodies and rhyme can push home theological ideas with great potency. The idea of tuning my heart to sing God's grace, and being taught to focus by song makes sense to me - I see that I get out of tune... kind of like my guitar, needing an adjustment quite often to be back on the right path.

Remembering that Jesus sought me when a stranger, when I was wondering from the fold of God is key for me, because I realise so many times I turn away again, but Jesus comes to find me, it's not like I'm written off until I perform some pious act to make myself worthy again. Because I am prone to wander... I do feel that.. I am prone to leave the God I love.  So the imagery of Jesus continuing to seek me out brings a sense of peace and comfort that is saturated in His love.  And so like a 'fetter' (a chain used to tie and bind) I embrace His goodness pulling my heart back and connecting it to Him once again.

So every time I sing or hear this song, the final lines become an offering anew... take my heart again Lord, forgive me, renew me, seal me to your plans and will once again.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Blowing away self focused Christianity.

In a world that is out to get the Christian, there are some who say we need to fight, we need to stand up, we need to defend and we need to drive out those who are coming for us.

But didn't the Bible say this was going to happen? Doesn't the Bible tell us we will die for Jesus? Didn't Jesus himself talk about people hating us? And then there was his whole 'turn the other cheek' thing...

The threat ISIS is on the world is serious, and should be dealt with - but not because Christians need to fight for their lives.  That's not our focus is it?

John Piper brought  a very challenging message about the Lamb's Book of Life at Passion this morning. He questioned what the Christian's focus must be.

Looking in eternity past we see that the Lamb was always going to be slain, and His book of life was written before the foundations of the world - the plan was always to offer salvation to the saints.  And in eternity future those saints will be with the Lamb, crying out how worthy He is, because He was slain.  In that light why are our lives so much of a focus for us? Shouldn't it be Jesus? Shouldn't it be our love for Him?

Jesus didn't focus on staying alive, much to our benefit - so if loving Him is our focus then our lives should be considered forfeit as well. That changes the way we look at the threat of terrorism, of how we handle refugees to our nation, how we hold onto the very culture of our nation. Our focus must be being in love with Jesus! And Jesus loves the poor, the destitute, the lonely and the refugee!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

From Victim to Victor!

I hadn't thought about it in that way before.  Louie Giglio kicked off the 2016 Passion Conference by speaking about those amazing words "He is Risen" that were spoken by the angel sitting on the stone after it had been rolled away from the tomb entrance.

Louie's right, not long after this Jesus turned up in a locked room to show himself to the disciples... a locked room - he basically came through the wall - so he didn't need to sit there and wait for someone to roll the stone out of the way so he could leave the tomb hey!

But God had huge plans for His followers, and those plans start with the substitution of His Son on the cross for us, but lurch forward with the victory of the resurrection.  Jesus was a victim of death, but then he became the victor over death.  The same goes for us, we were once a victim of sin, but at some point something fundamentally changes and we become victors over sin because of Jesus. And so God had the stone rolled away so we could come and see what He had done, we could see a victory, become part of that victory.

I often blame my humanness for my constant sin, and though my humanness does continually cause me to sin, I get to the point of using it as a crutch, almost an excuse to sin... that is not right!  I am a victor, not a victim!  We have been let in and we need to live fundamentally changed lives that represent that!

I praise God for His Word, and for people like Louie Giglio and conferences like Passion which bring to me completely new revelations of the Gospel!

Friday, 1 January 2016

In the 'new' beginning...

Welcome to 2016.  A new year brings the opportunity for a new beginning and a refocusing of mindset.  I must admit I lost my way a little in 2015. It was a year of change,; a year of trials and difficulties that forced some significant life changes for me.  During that time I kind of retreated into myself, shut myself down (both socially and spiritually) and became very self-centred and hardhearted.

Over the last month or so I'd been feeling I was slowly reemerging, that God was doing His best to break through, and that though in some ways my humanness was trying to hold out, it couldn't possible resist the love and grace God was constantly showing me.

Christmas is a hugely busy time for a pastor, but once carols, and lights and the 'events' were over I had a week where I could reflect on the what Jesus did, what love this celebration was forged in, and I found myself really connecting again with what Jesus did for me, and what He's called me to do for Him.

So more than ever, New Years Day feels like a new beginning this year. I'm committing to a Bible Reading plan - something I have never really liked, but I feel I need the discipline - I'm using it as a 'fast-paced' reading technique which I hope will encourage my 'slow-paced' reading which really fell away last year.  It's a chronological plan so obviously today's reading was Genesis 1-3, I was centered again on how God speaks and things happen.  My prayer is He speaks into my life this year so that things happen.

For others considering how to embrace a new beginning this year I found this article from Desiring God really helpful.

Advice for Another Year of Bible Reading

Happy New Year everyone...
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