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ANDREW JONES: A BLOGGERS PRAYER

December 18, 2010

Our Father who lives above and beyond the dimension of the internet

Give us this day a life worth blogging,

The access to words and images that express our journey with passion and integrity,

And a secure connection to publish your daily mercies.

Your Kingdom come into new spaces today,

As we make known your mysteries, Posting by posting,

Blog by blog. Give this day,

The same ability to those less privileged,

Whose lives speak louder than ours,

Whose sacrifice is greater,

Whose stories will last longer.

Forgive us our sins,

For blog-rolling strangers and pretending they are friends,

For counting unique visitors but not noticing unique people,

For delighting in the thousands of hits but ignoring the ONE who returns,

For luring viewers but sending them away empty handed,

For updating daily but repenting weekly.

As we forgive those who trespass on our sites to appropriate our thoughts without reference,

Our images without approval,

Our ideas without linking back to us.

Lead us not into the temptation to sell out our congregation,

To see people as links and not as lives,

To make our blogs look better than our actual story.

But deliver us from the evil of pimping ourselves instead of pointing to you,

From turning our guests into consumers of someone else’s products,

From infatuation over the toys of technology,

From idolatry over techology

From fame before our time has come.

For Yours is the power to guide the destinies behind the web logs,

To bring hurting people into the sanctuaries of our sites,

To give us the stickiness to follow you, no matter who is watching or reading.

Yours is the glory that makes people second look our sites and our lives,

Yours is the heavy ambience,

For ever and ever,

Amen

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Mary…

December 2, 2010

Thirteen years old and pregnant.. sound like a Jeremy Kyle episode? In fact it’s the story of a mother, who brought the most precious child into this world. A child that became a man, a child who was already a saviour, a Lord who left an indellible mark in the hearts of creation…

Here’s Mary’s Story – Written by Lauren Sugden.

Hi,

I guess by now you already know most of my story; the angel, the stable, the shepherds, the wise men it all happened, I know it happened yet there are still times when I can’t believe it happened to me!

I was 13 the year my life changed. I’d been an adult for just a year and was engaged to Joseph. He’s the kindest most discerning loving man I’ve ever met and he was working hard to build a house for us at the time, one that not only I would like but also one that my father would approve of, little did he know we wouldn’t be returning.

Both Joseph and I had been brought up in the Jewish faith, we knew of the scriptures, we knew that the Messiah would be coming, admittedly I was thinking along the lines of rolls of thunder and chariots of gold but we knew that one day He would come. I

 just didn’t expect Him to come during my life time or for Him to come as a baby and I definitely didn’t expect to find myself involved. I’ll never forget that night, the night the Angel came and told me what God’s plan for my life was, the joy in my heart as I chose to follow it, the feeling of life exploding inside of me; like I could feel the baby starting to grow the instant I agreed.

The emotions that followed were over whelming, the first coherent thought I remember having was ‘How do I tell Joseph?!’ Needless to say he was more than a little shocked, yet he seemed immediately more concerned that the divorce be carried out quietly so as to save me than he did about the fact that I was carrying a child and it obviously wasn’t his.

I guess he’s always been that kind of man. God however had different ideas and let Joseph know what was happening, he agreed to stand by me, that we would face this together as man and wife. Seeing the sacrifice he’d made, I felt bad about the need to go and visit my cousin Elizabeth, but the gossiping in town had got worse and she was the only other person in the world who had even a vague idea of how I was feeling.

God had, by his grace allowed her and Zacharias to conceive. When I arrived Elizabeth was glowing, even in her old age pregnancy suited her, I spent a wonderful three months with her and was sad to leave, but I was missing Joseph and knew that the time had come to return home. As it was I wasn’t back long before I had to leave again, this time with Joseph as a census had been called and we had to go to Bethlehem. It was there in a town where I knew no one, in a stable at the back of an inn that Jesus was born. It sounds idyllic I know, and as soon as I held him I guess I forgot about my surroundings but it looking back it wasn’t the ideal way to deliver a child.

Sitting there with Joseph watching Jesus sleep I started looking forward to settling down to life in the house Joseph had built for us, surrounded by friends and family, but then the visitors started arriving. It was the shepherds who first reminded me of just how special this little boy was, they had been told by angels that he was here and came from their fields to worship him.

Then after a few months the Maji came, they had travelled hundreds of miles just to see Jesus, they’d brought gifts and wisdom and through an Angel a warning. I thought that we’d been anonymous here that no one knew of what had happened but I was wrong, Herod had not only heard but he planned to kill my son, to kill God’s son! As we started life in exile I started to realise that this path I’d chosen to follow wasn’t going to be easy, as I write this we are in Egypt, I don’t know when or even if we’ll ever get to go home, I don’t know what difficulties are to come, I don’t know the rest of the plan but I do know that the life of this child is more important than anything.

 Yours Mary

Fixing things…

November 10, 2010

I came across a song  recently via this purple friend, It’s called ‘Fixing things’ by Jacob and the sound The song came at a great moment! It’s reminded me that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of me, what matters is what God thinks of me.

Why do I pretend that I’m okay, clearly when you see that I’m not

I fell for you, I didn’t mean to, and you did it without your touch

Fixing, broken hearts, It’s never been as easy since I realised you’re here

Re-inventing, broken dreams and all the little things, love can tear us apart

I am to you what I wanted to be, Just tell the truth what I wanted to see, it’s not just me

And whenever there’s a thought, that you’re not good enough at being yourself

I’ll sit with you, and i’ll  have a brew, ‘cos i, i’m here for you

Thinking what would we do without the love of God and the spirit of truth

Don’t  be neglecting your chosen right, as the son or daughter of the most high.

I am to him, what I wanted to be, Just tell the truth, what I wanted to see.

(Check out Jacob and the sound, and get the album here)

A weekend or so ago I transformed from someone extremely happy into this confused, snotty, crying mess and I couldn’t understand why at all!

When you’re feeling down and out, useless and trodden on the devil takes the opportunity to put the boot in and tell you how useless you are, he loves to tell us that we’re failures and that we’re not good enough.

Suddenly everything seemed hopeless. Like someone had pencilled in a big cartoon styley black cloud above my head and I just couldn’t seem to shake off the feeling of despair. Not understanding the feeling at all kind of panicked me, I’ve always been someone who had generally good control over my emotions.

I make a point of NEVER crying in front of anyone and in the space of a weekend a fair few people had witnessed my puffy red eyes and attempts to hide behind a fair few tissues! One of my main aims in life has always been to make people smile, I hate feeling anything other than happy! I guess I maintained the appearance that I never had any problems pretty well!

It made me realise that nobody ever seems to get taught the lesson ‘it’s okay not to be okay.’

It’s a very British thing to cover up our problems and paint on a face that says ‘I’m okay, I don’t need help, I am strong, confident and independant.’ In my opinion we do it far too much!

‘Tally ho chaps lets see that stiff upper lip!’

A Brasilian friend of mine called Helio said to me when I was talking to him once ‘You know, its okay to cry. Don’t hold it in, there’s a reason that we feel like crying. It’s not good to hold it all in.’

Are we afraid as people to show our vulnerability, totally! Should we be? No! Fair enough we may freak a few people out if we end up bawling on their shoulders but you know something, by doing it yes you’ve felt vulnerable. But you’ve also said to that person, you know what – ‘It’s okay!’

A great friend of mine taught me something last week, she said, ‘You know Claire, the devil wants us to think we’re failures, he wants to stop us from doing God’s work. You need to stand up and tell him that he’s failed already! We so often talk of a battle with the devil that’s ongoing and we forget one key thing, God’s already won!’ There’s a guy in the Bible called Job who suffered at the hands of the devil. He was such a devoted follower of God, Satan saw this and said to God, ‘What reason does he have not to love you, you’ve blessed everything he has. Take it all away from him, make him suffer and he’ll curse you to your face.’ (paraphrased)

God gave Satan permission to inflict suffering on Job, providing that he did not harm him. Job lost everything, his wealth, his children, his health. Even Job’s wife turned around and told him to ‘Curse God and die.’ But Job didn’t. He loved God above anything and lived to the limit the phrase ‘God gives and takes away, but my heart will choose to say, blessed be your name.’

I didn’t go through anything like Job, not nearly! but you know something, in the face of his suffering he held fast to God.

Guest Blogger – Hazel ~ Finding my momentum

September 13, 2010

What´s love? Is it that warm fuzzy feeling that comes so easily to you when you meet someone you like, someone who likes all of the same things that you do? I used to think so. I realised that love is pain, graft, toil, heartbreak and joy! Without the pain, love becomes just sentiment. That´s something I learnt at Soul Survivor this year.

The ultimate love: ~Man has no greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. ~ Toil, hardship, hard work – LOVE.

Today´s post is a message from the heart, something that God spoke to Hazel, a good friend of mine.

I´ll sit quietly and let her tell you how God used Christian events Soul Survivor and Momentum to speak to her heart.

Well I suppose it’s about time I filled you all in. 🙂 Firstly I would like to say a thank you to those at soul survivor for the amazing worship, the message you brought and the time you all put in to help encourage the church and help it to grow, keep going 🙂

I went to Soul Survivor and momentum as an escape, I had a year feeling very alone at church, my friends had all gone and I was left very much alone.

I didn’t fit in and was starting to feel very resentful towards my church. This doesn’t mean I hated the people in it, although I had my moments, my petty please don’t talk to me I’m really not interested.

I felt invisible, and almost grateful that I was, I was never the sort of person who goes up to other people, they had to come to me, being quite shy normally means I get almost a little star-stuck (for lack of a better word) when people I don’t know talk to me, or if I dare to talk to them.

Then it’s full of awkward silences, anyway I’m digressing a bit.

Going to soul survivor was my chance to love god with my friends, people my own age who I could connect to, they used examples I could relate too, to explain bits about the bible or God, or any of the other things we learnt about.

But as the week progressed I knew God wanted me to change, a couple of weeks before soul survivor I was asked to help with the prayer of intersession at church and I turned it down, I didn’t want to be up in front of people, everyone watching me, what if I got it wrong, what if my words came out all messed up.

I couldn’t handle the fear.

God showed me that it didn’t matter that I was afraid, I had to see past the fear, to see that he was there holding me up, I can’t do it in my own strength, me fears were crippling my life, everything from a fear of butterflies to escalators to microphones to being in front of people. With the help of the prayer of those around me I came back with a new confidence in Christ.

Momentum was just as amazing but in a much more subtle way, they were still going on about the wow, woe and go, but I’m somebody who’s never had a wow! But it didn’t bother me, I hadn’t needed one.

We had a talk one evening from Ellie Mumford, who is an older lady, with a proper Queen’s English style of speaking, so I was sat thinking oh no, I’m not gonna understand this, she’ll use some example I won’t understand. But she didn’t, she connected really well and I remember mentally slapping my wrist for judging her, just because she was old.

Then I thought if I could judge her like that is that what I’ve being doing at church. Then I realised I needed to stop, I needed to change, to become an encouragement to my church even when it was tough, even when I didn’t want to be, even when I don’t feel like I fit in, because only when I love God’s church as it is, with it’s many imperfections would I then be able to see its wonder, it’s goodness and feel like I’m truly apart of it.

So since I’ve got back what’s changed? Well I am trying to do the bible in a year, and so far I think I’ve read more in 11 days than I have in any year previously despite going to church almost every Sunday of my life. I have also volunteered too try teaching in Sunday school, a big step from being a teaching assistant for 4 years.

I’m also trying to attend the evening service at church more often, as an encouragement to my church, as well as being more open to helping in church whether that’s by reading the bible, saying a prayer or evening just welcoming people as they come in. I’ve picked my guitar up for the first time in about 8 years, and I’m singing more.

But most of all I’m living despite my fear, one of the songs at Dave’s induction service summed it up nicely for me, the change God was asking me to make:

Will you love the ‘you’ you hide If I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside And never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found To reshape the world around,

Through my sight and touch and sound In you and you in me?

From now on this is how I’m going to try and live, it doesn’t say I won’t have fear but that I’ll act anyway, that I’ll love the me inside (that for me is a big ask, I’m somebody who’s never felt good enough), that I’ll use what I’ve found this year for him in everything I do, so please keep me in your prayers.

A great exchange rate..

September 3, 2010

 As you probably know I’ve recently become the Youth Assistant at my church. This means I have lots of things to be planning and organising etc etc. One thing that I was asked to do in my new role last Sunday was to get up and give a solo children’s talk.

Piece of cake I thought! I’ve done that before.

NEVER have I got up in front of my church and shaken so much, completely involuntarily! It was quite bizar.

When planning my little talk I sat down with God after much deliberation and prayed about what I should say. I am fast learning that if I do this first I save a lot of time!

The story of the lost coin came to mind (find it here) mixed with an illustration that i’d heard from a preacher whilst  I was in Nepal – with my own little twist of course.

I stood in front of my church and the looked back at me in expectation, an expextation that quickly turned to confusion and then finally disbelief. It was brilliant!

It went a little bit like this:

Now, who’s heard of a programme called Antiques roadshow? Anyone? Well I bet your parents or even Grandparents have. It’s a programme where people take very old things to be valued by an expert. Now before you all start asking your Mums and Dads to take you to the show with your grandparents I’d better explain what I mean.

Antiques are things that are collected from the past, some are worth a lot of money and people take these things to be valued and to see whether the experts will pay anything for them.

You know what? I’ve got an antique, I think it’s quite valuable.. would you like to see it?

[nods of agreement and interest]

Well I did something genius this morning, I thought my antique was so valuable that I decided to hide it so I didn’t lose it. I found the greatest hiding place too! The only thing is, it was that good I’ve forgotten where I put it.

[ask the congregation to rummage around under their chairs to find said antique and bring it to me]

What is it?

Read more…

My Guest Blogger is something crazy!

August 19, 2010

Hello you lot! It’s been a crazy couple of months that has involved juggling three jobs, dropping one and now working two, protesting, worshipping and following God’s big footsteps!

I’m sorry! It’s been a poor month for blog posts from me this August, but instead of leaving you for a few more weeks of desolation I’m allowing a friend of a friend who became a friend (get my drift?) to fill my sparkly shoes for a post.

Introducing author of somethingcrazy:

  

 over to Alan!

Well, I must begin by saying what an absolute pleasure it is to be here, writing on this blog and for this blogger in particular! This is actually one of the blogs which inspired me to start writing my own (yes, it’s her fault), so to have ended up writing on here is amazing. And regular readers among you will know that the blogger herself is awesome – but take it from those of us who are actually privileged enough to know Claire, she’s even more awesome than you think! Yes, she’s definitely a green skittle…

“Hang on!” I hear you cry, “We remember that post, and purple skittles were the best! You’ve just called her ‘The unintentionally annoying person! Difficult to deal with at times, a real patience builder.’” Now calm down, I’m a guest on here, so I’m hardly going to do that, am I? In fact, I think you’ll find that particular description fits me far better than it does Claire. No, the simple fact of the matter is that I dare to disagree with her about the ordering of her list – green should be at the top and… well, everything else is just somewhere below that.

Thing is, we actually have arguments over this (we live weird lives sometimes). One day she shall see the light and admit my taste-buds are superior, but in the meantime this has got me thinking. And yes, I know, sometimes it’s better to leave my thoughts in my own head rather than subjecting everyone else to them, but I’m going to tell you about them anyway.

Firstly, why do we disagree? Well, because we have our own opinions about things – we are unique, individual people. You might think this is a bit obvious, but I’ve heard people argue that if Christians are like a flock of sheep, then we are merely robots who all do the same things. I can see the theory, because we should all be following and obeying the shepherd, but we are far from robots. We are individual because that’s the way God has created us, with our own personalities.

            “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you          because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full    well.”

            Psalm 139 v13-14

And what makes this incredible is that, when we say God loves us, we don’t just mean He loves all humans because we’re all basically the same – no, the God of the entire universe loves you specifically, because there never has been, isn’t, and never will be another you! This means that His relationship with you, and the salvation which He offers you, is personal. It’s awe-inspiring!

Secondly, is it therefore okay to disagree with one another? If God has made us with our own individual personalities and opinions, then surely it is inevitable? No. If we’re being honest, we all know that arguments and quarrels are damaging to our relationships with one another.

            “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”

            Proverbs 17 v14

            “It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.”

            Proverbs 20 v3

            “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they     produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to           everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

            2 Timothy 2 v23-24

I think it’s fair to say that disagreeing over the best colour of skittle qualifies as a “foolish and stupid argument”, so I’m going to hold my hands up here and say that I’m being daft about it and won’t pursue it any further! Easily done with something so trivial, I know, but let’s try not to breach those dams with regards to other disagreements too.

Finally, how do differing opinions affect our relationships? Ask any of my friends and they will tell you that I am far from an expert on this subject, but I do know of a popular opinion which states that “opposites attract”. And I can kind of understand this – I mean, if you fell in love with someone who was essentially the same as you, you’d kind of be falling in love with yourself. And that would just be weird. Plus, spending your life with someone who shares all the same interests as you will mean you don’t change anything you do, whereas someone who is different will introduce you to new and exciting things. But would you really like your exact opposite? Think about it – they wouldn’t just disagree with you on things, but directly oppose you on them. If you want to live out in the country, they will flatly refuse to do so. If you love children then they will actually hate them, not just dislike them. If you are willing to compromise… they won’t be! Yes, I am taking this to the nth degree, but the point is that you need some common ground when it comes to the important stuff, and I think that’s why the Bible says this:

            “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness   have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

            2 Corinthians 6 v14

Being “yoked together” is perhaps hard to understand these days – think of it as being “joined at the hip” instead. A small disagreement might cause a bit of a wobble, but if you’re heading in different directions when it comes to the really important stuff then things are going to get a bit messy. And believers and non-believers are heading in different directions…

            “’Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to    destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads             to life, and only a few find it.’”

            Matthew 7 v13-14

We’re on different paths, heading to different destinations. If you’re yoked together then firstly it’s just going to be really hard, and secondly you risk being dragged off-course – and that isn’t a risk worth taking!

Crumbs, from colours of skittles to being yoked together, all in one post – I fear I must have done rather a lot of waffling in between to get from one to the other! Sorry, hopefully normal service shall be resumed on here by Claire soon…

Don’t Jump!

June 10, 2010

This picture appeared on at http://postsecret.blogspot.com since its appearance on Sunday a Facebook group of almost 50,000 people has evolved to offer this person support! It's incredible.