Tuesday, January 31

Who am I, who is I am: Lilly Allen and the story of moses (part one)

Okay so as promised further thoughts and blogs on NMSC2012. I will say now that this may or maynot have anything to do with what was actually spoken and I may have got the gist entirely wrong (small disclaimer) but this is what I took from them and have been meditating from with God since that time.

SO... Lily Allen and Moses, that great classical combination, right! Most people will probably know the story of Moses but if you don't its a great epic in the bible. A story that  just kind of blows you away when you begin to think about it, make a great film even just the first bit of mosses life so what is there, um, genocide, an attempt to float a baby down the river, adopted by a princess, excepted in the royal family, murder, burning bushes, God, Plagues, parting of rivers etc. etc. (on a side not I love the women in the beginning of the story a true moment of girl power!)

But I'm going to be concentrating on just the small encounter with the burning bush. (a link to the story: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+3&version=NIV)

There are many points you can bring from this story and I love the story because I once asked for a burning bush a sign to what I should do, and I didnt get one on fire but I turned the corner in a road (cause its natural to drive and pray) and there it was as the sun was setting just there in front of me this bright red tree shining!

Now theres two kinda points that fit with Lilly Allen songs as Eunice Attwood pointed out. This idea of who am I, and who is God - I am.
the first is Lilly Allen's "the fear: It looks at who I am, or rather kinda how people think we are. As a young person I really worry that that is how are generation is seen, let alone how people actually feel. I can say that actually I don't want to be a consumerist, I want to be authentic for God. With in the story of Moses, when he encounters god he ask who am I to go. This is a feeling that resonates within, most if not nearly all people. The idea of being scared, of being fearful of ourselves and who we are, and what we are called to do, more so the unknown version of this tale is probably seen clearly in the biblical story of moses. This man we often have heard of in sunday school and church questioned his own identity and ability. Now The Lilly Allen song say a lot about this generation (and sorry I'm going to bombard you with videos but!) this morning in prayers we had another video, its a video I've seen many times before based on a poem by Pete Grieg.

I hope I pay more attention to the second vision than that of the first. I do not want to have the vision pressed upon me like that of Lilly Allen's fear cause I do have a vision in Christ, and you know what it might not be completely Pete Grieg's vision (but I get that) because I don't care what people think about me I will just move in Christ... like the video say.

Watch out for part two soon.

Sunday, January 29


So over this weekend I finally got acquainted with that part of the M1 that signposts THE NORTH, pretty much like that. Such vagueness, the NORTH. I could have been going any where (and with my satnav I could have been going anywhere.) Such frivolity to jump in a car and just drive. If I was to do this without a clear purpose (which I did have) then I can honestly say that the M1 would not be the road of choice!

But on Friday (27th Jan 2012) just before 2pm that is where I found myself. Not alone i hasten to add, but rather with Holly, a great mix tape (CD) and my KA - aren't you glad to know I wasn't walking. What a journey through rain and sleet, and according to my satnav on roads that are un-surfaced (the M1 - un-surfaced :S ) and past all the lifeguards. I went to Durham - which I believe is the furthest North I have ever been - to the National Methodist Student Conference, to be greeted by the 'Durhamites' or the MethSoc of Durham University.

The first night included worship, meditative prayer (in sleeping bags), buffet food and the obligatory ice breakers. Pretty much a standard at most conferences, I wonder if the main conference would survive as well on a church floor... quite comfy esp with my adapted roll mat - a parachute (why not!).

We had three fantastic speakers Deacon Eunice Attwood, former Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, speaking on “Journeying in God with Moses and Lily Allen”, Rev. Ruth Gee, the chair of the Darlington District, speaking on “Stardust, Stories and Surprises - Knowing Me, Knowing You, Knowing God”, and Rev. Roger Walton, chair of the West Yorkshire District, speaking on “Discipleship, Mission and Small groups.” A truly veritable feast for mind and soul... and the cake they had solved the stomach issues. I plan to at some point before all thoughts on the weekend dissolve into the rest of my whirring mind, blog on each of the seminars so watch this space, but for me what God really spoke into my heart was that God was a God of transformation, a God who loves as us as we are but loves us so much to leave us as we are. It's kinda hard to get your head around but its like you favorite stuffed toy teddy ripped to pieces that you love dearly but can't bear (notice the pun) to see it not fixed. God is a God who transforms. 

So watch this space for more thoughts and exciting-ness about the weekend and life in general.

Monday, January 23

5 months today

So in a quick break from that dissertation I'm writing I have learnt that it is 112 days or 3 months and 21 days till my final deadline. This is just a small amount of crazy compared to the fact that in:

152 or 5 months 

it will be the day I graduate. All Cliff College Third Years, have fun with this great fact. 

112 days to write the equivalent of 39000 words, keep on preaching, praying, living and find a job. 

Them elusive words "whats next" or "you'll soon not be here" haunt the corners of your conversations. The dreaded thought that some how between now and the next five months you some how have to figure out the entirety of what happens next or at least some sort of action plan. I suppose I'm lucky, I've already started to apply for Jobs. Keeping my ear to the ground for any potential. Reasonably willing to go any where. 

It all comes back down to this calling business, I preach so often on calling, and I forever joke that I haven't a clue where the next year or two will take me... I even used a parachute on Sunday to stress how at moments this terrifies me and make me wish to bail - or run away like Jonah. And like many thing that I sit here and wonder about it all boils down to this one thing. God will provide. I'm aware he will provide the 39000 equivalent words, with relevant footnotes. I'm very aware he will preach the good news through me, and in spite of me if I fail! I'm aware he here's my thoughts when I don't make it up for morning prayers, and forgives me when I struggle at house group and celebrations. I'm aware the he has great plans for me and has a job for me and will provide for me. For God never called the equipped, but equips the called. I know (although sometimes I feel its more a hope than an assurance, I'm human after all) he will not let me fail at his work. 

"Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Philippians 1:18b-19 (NIV)

There is a long time between here and the end of five months, but also so little. I hope you will be willing to pray with me and share through this time and thoughts as I continue to let you have a glimpse in my life. Maybe you have a job for me, or some words of wisdom... Somehow I get the feeling these five months are the start of something big! Watch this space.

Sunday, January 15


Deadline is that time of year which all students dread, even if you like deadline it fills you with that cold sweat, knowing that somewhere you friends will be eating that midnight pizza followed by 3am toast and 6 am coffee. Its that moment where you realise your reading may just pay off and that Facebook is possibly the worst invention. Its a time when you consider there is the possibility of two 3 o'clocks in the day and that wikipedia although not quotable is a gift from God.

My friends consider that Deadline sends me completely crazy, or rather I become less concerned about confrontation and more prone to speaking my mind. Most find this reasonably amusing, and in some ways  is possibly a trait I should consider adopting more often.

So I asked some friends for something to talk about and it was suggest I talked about Aiden Sharpe. This week in college we started an appreciation group for Aiden. This is a guy I've known for a very time through Cliff College Festival. Now I don't want to embarrass him to much but he is fantastic musician, great man of God and a really good friend. Currently he's probably sat somewhere in college writing the last of his work. I wish him well.

So now I've embarrassed him a little he is also a friend who has started a blog for the new year. he has some interesting thoughts, and often produces them at wither inconvenient moments, when he should be typing, or when we're both trying to be quiet behind a sound desk.

Take a look http://adsharpe.blogspot.com/

This is definitely be a man to look out for.

Thursday, January 5

The Wise Men's Guide

Its crazy how often I start a post and never finish what I was going to type. Often for various reasons, sometimes phone calls, or someone wants something that has to be done instantly. Sometimes the words fail me or I get to the end of a post and I look back at the inadequacy of my words. I've sat down many times this week to blog about my New Years Day service and each time I've got three lines into the introduction and one of the above has happened. Preaching a message is so much easier. But I wish to write it here to remind myself of my own words throughout the year. My sermon had a title. I don't often title my sermons, but this just seemed to happen. The Wise Men's Guide to 2012. Like many traditional sermons it had three points (also all titled so all I had to have in front of me was one title and a subheading - saving the world less notes at a time.) 

My first point (and please if you know me and I struggle with any of these through out the year please refer me back to this blog post!) is Great Expectations. At the beginning of this year do we have great expectations. I cannot imagine the wise men setting out halfway around the world on a very long journey if they did not have great expectations for what was to happen. When we go on holidays we have great expectations of relaxation or adventure (depending on your particular holiday persuasion.)  The wise Men had poured out into charts and built there lives around stars and here was one of the greatest possibilites they could take so they followed. This year do I have great expectations of God and what he is going to do for me and how I am going to serve him. I have expectations: to hopefully finish my degree, to get a job, to finish my local preachers, to find somewhere to live, to candidate. But I also have to be aware that I'm following Gods will and if his star leads me down a different path then who am I to not let go of my current expectations and move forward to his. I'm sure the Wise men were busy people, who had a lot to do, probably some very important engagements were to happen in there time away, but they had greater expectations in what God was doing than there plans.  This year I pray for Greater Expectations of God. 

My second point was about the ups and downs we face in our year. We know on any journey we go on there are better parts and worse parts, and I'm sure trekking to find the new born King was no different. I always imagine that the wise men would have had that mountain top moment surrounded by the pure beauty of creation, but we also see that these men are human and get things wrong as they enter Herod's palace. In my heart I expect they knew this as they entered, that sinking feeling, that intuition that tells you that something is wrong. However, what I love more about that wise Men's story is not only do they get it wrong but God uses that situation to the Wise Men on the right path, he gives them more information, a new direction and heads them on their way. I can see this happened before in my Christian journey moments when I've got it wrong and he's put me right, and I can also know I've sometimes been blind to God's beauty when its all going well. For 2012 I hope I open my eyes more to what God is doing.

Thirdly I hope that what ever happens good or bad this year I keep coming to praise God. Turning my face solely on Jesus and offering what ever I have to give him, like the Wise Men did all them years ago. I hope this time next year I will be able to look back and see the points that have been amazing because God made them beautiful, see the points were even though I've got it wrong God will put me back on that path that is straight and narrow, and once again I just lift my voice in all situations to praise him with all that I have. 

This year I'm going to expect great things, going to ask God to open my eyes, and I'm going to praise him, Praise him when its good, praise when its bad, and praise him even louder when it is truly truly ugly... this is my prayer. 

The service was a nice service, I enjoyed it, however I would also like to ask you not only to think about what the Wise Men's journey means for your 2012 but also pray for a family in my church who lost a a wonderful Lady (Fiance and Mother) in the early hours of New Years Day, and also for the church and those who are supporting them at this time. I'm not sure I will ever forget this New Years Day service because of the loss felt by our church family, but also because God is still good and has a message for us to hear. 

I leave you with this song by Matt Redman, a song I have not stopped sing these last two weeks. 

"The sun comes up
Its a new day dawning
Its time to sing your song again
What ever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes"
 - 10,000 Reason (Bless the Lord) by Matt Redman