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Showing posts from 2016

No Stone Unturned

The world we live in is wonderful. I am mean that in the literal meaning of the word, it is full of wonder. One of the unexpected delights of having my own children is that I get to relive the world again through their eyes. It's something I wasn't expecting. Life sparkles again.

A few weeks ago now when I was painting the garden fence Zach, my 18month old, was exploring the flower beds and searching under every stone in search of a woodlouse or two. It was fun to watch him trying to look under the rocks and, after he had done so, to bend down and stare intently at the creatures. Sadly for the invertebrates he discovered the staring soon turned into prodding and full on squashing; they didn't last much longer once that began. I didn't intervene, it was science after all, an experiment was taking place - if I squeeze, slime oozes forth... was the postulation of the day. I didn't want to stand in the way of discovery.

Happy to be a hobbit

I've come to see that much of my angst and anxiety about the future comes from an over inflated view of myself. There I've said it.

I've come to see that much of my pursuit of success is a lot more about a pursuit of personal acclaim than it is about success. Although it's true that I'm among the world's most privileged people and that I do have a responsibility to live conscientiously, much of my drive isn't as other-centred as I'd like people to think it is.

I have found that there is a lot of freedom and joy to be had in the concept behind the title of this blog. A hobbit knows his place in the world and isn't torn apart by aspirations. He is happy to let wizards be wizards and enjoy their company. A hobbit understands that dwarfs simply are the way they are, and there's nothing he can do to change it. Hobbits know that they cannot save the world, that they aren't as wise as wizards or as strong as men or as mysterious as elves (but they …

Only For You

Jesus you called my name
       giving me life again
Forever I'll sing, forever I'll be
       only for you -- Sam Cox, Newday 2015  Last night Jesus spoke to me through a dream I woke up with fresh in my mind:

I was preaching at church and it was going well, I was in my stride and making what I felt to be good, points when all of a sudden (for good and legitimate reasons) people began to make their excuses and leave, one by one. Before long I was left preaching to a room of only two or three people; at this point I was faced with a dilemma, do I carry on preaching? I stopped preaching, disheartened by how few people were left in the room.

This is how it can feel in Seaford from time to time, disheartening; this is not due to the people in the church - the people are fantastic. The family of the church are phenomenal and a genuine blessing, but building a church here to a size of sustainability and evangelistic effectiveness is slow going.

But then the image in my dream chang…

Life IS Boring

When I was a teenager I remember the horrible pressure I felt each Friday & Saturday night to be out doing something AMAZing or HILarious. And I remember the restlessness I'd feel every time I just stayed home; after all, what if people were out having fun and laughing and I wasn't included? What if Iwas the butt of their joke? What if, by missing the joke, I missed out on learning what people really thought about me? Oh the anxiety and restless turmoil of those stay-at-home Saturday nights. It's safe to say that I don't miss teenagehood.

Times changed, I Uni'd the thirst for parties out of my system and now I have no problem staying in on a weekend; I'm really quite good and vegetating on a sofa in front of a film now.

Times have changed and so has the trigger for those emotions, but the restlessness still surfaces from time to time. Now it's not so much about missing a party but about an opportunity, or not making the most of good health and youth. Th…

It needs cooking

Today, this morning, I received probably the most glowing piece of encouragement I have ever had after preaching a sermon. Reflecting on this I feel I've learnt something really quite valuable that I want to mark down for personal posterity.

I preach often these days, a reality that never ceases to amaze and thrill me; I used to daydream about and long to do the thing I get to do often now. I'm not a little grateful to God. As a regular preacher to a small congregation of around 65 adults I'm not unfamiliar with discouragement. Not the verbal, aggressive and critical kind; more the passive, struggling to stay awake in your seat, silent spectator kind. Add into that that I'm a fairly needy individual - my top 'love language' being words of affirmation; which basically means that I NEED to be told nice things or else I'll die! - it's a struggle sometimes to maintain joy and faith in this setting. Church planting is a monthly cycle of discouragement and en…

Wonder

Stories. I love stories. I love the feeling of clarity a good story gives me. I love that feeling I get when a good story touches some deep part of me and opens my eyes again to wonder.

The common threads in stories that evoke such emotion are overcoming adversity, break through in discovery, achieving something of immense value, and love.

I resonate with what I've heard described by Chesterton about the true myth. The reason I think I love stories so much is because they are able to reach a deep part of me that longs for and aches for the true story of God's love for me. As much as I talk about and think in terms of 'significance' and 'meaning', 'purpose' and other grand themes, I think that what I really need and long for is Love.

A mother's love for a child that empowers that child to achieve excites me in as much as it reminds me of God's love for me. I see in her smile and her embrace, His. Her resilience is a shadow of His.

A man working a…

FIGHT: for joy

Scripture
In your presence is fullness of joy and at your right hand are pleasures evermore. -- Psalm 16:11 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. -- Psalm 37:4 Though you do not see him you love him and you believe in him and you are filled with inexpressible joy. -- 1 Peter 1:8 Observation

The Christian life involves a fight. We've been looking at that concept together now for several weeks. We are told to stand against the devil and his demons and to not be unaware of the Enemy's schemes against us. We can't pretend like we're living during peacetime, we're not.

As a Christian I believe God wants me to be happy and, since he wants for me to be happy, I have a responsibility to fight for my joy and contentment. Consider the scriptures we've just read. God is happy, overflowing with and possessing joy evermore, pleasures in abundance. We as Christians share in his joy. Peter describes the experience of Christians everywher…

Essence: Rescued

Scripture

Following on from Sunday's message, today's Bible reading is Colossians 1:13-14.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Observation

Tim Peake made history recently when he became the first British ESA astronaut to visit the international space station. On 15 December 2015 at 11:03am he took off on board the Soyuz TMA-19M en route to the International Space Station where he'll remain for 6 months performing experiments on behalf of researchers on Earth.

The weightlessness being experienced by Peake must be a strange and remarkable reality to get used to. I heard one commentator mention that astronauts new to the space station spend much of their time in the first few days losing things. Their belongings simply don't stay put any more, but instead seem to take on a life of their own floating away from wherever they're left. For this reason ins…

A Sword For the Fight

Scripture : Today's full reading can be found here
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might...16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Observation:

Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians with an instruction to put on spiritual armour. After all he's communicated to the church about the Christian life, about their position in Christ, about their need to be filled with the Spirit and about how they are to prize unity he concludes by saying, essentially '...and don't forget, it's a fight!' 

In this fight we're given metaphorical armour to help us: Faith is like a shield, righteousness becomes like a breastplate, salvation a helmet. It has often be pointed out that all of the equipment we're…