Saturday, 31 March 2012
I must come clean,
I am an addict.
I'm addicted to draw something.
This might be the most dangerous of my addictions to date; much worse than my blogging, reading or chatting addictions. This involves hours of time glued to my android tablet guessing other peoples' drawn creations and then drawing my own.
I have found invaluable help from twelve step programmes such as OA in my other addictions, but I haven't managed to track down a meeting for DA - Drawers Anonymous
Please give me the details of any meetings you know about, I need help.
Or, contact me to challenge me to a drawing challenge :)
I like blogging with blogger, always have done, it works for me in a way that WordPress just doesn't.
But the downside has been that the blogger interface was a pig on mobile devices and the app was buggy. But now all that has been changed and life will be even easier.
Blogger have updated their apps for iPhone and for Android (on my Archos 80 G9 tablet).
I've been playing/using both today and am thrilled by how user friendly, efficient and easy they are to blog with.
Of course there will be things that annoy me, but the simplicity is my number one issue and that's fantastic.
Well done blogger and thanks
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”. Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life. Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple courts they asked one another, “What do you think? Isn’t he coming to the festival at all?” But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who found out where Jesus was should report it so that they might arrest him.
Jesus stopped being so obvious and so public, he took himself away and quietly continued his ministry.
What does this tell us?
Should we sometimes move away, should we know when to back off?
Well yes, I think we should.
Sometimes people need time to think and come to Jesus in their own time, sometimes space is exactly what's needed.
Jesus we thank you for every aspect of your ministry, we ask you to guide is in every aspect of our work for you. Amen
Friday, 30 March 2012
The conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories has continued to affect the most basic of Palestinian human rights such as freedom of movement .
The situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories is atrocious, and it really doesn't seem to show any sign of ending. What do we in the west do about it? Pretty little from what I can see and certainly little that is doing a lot of good. How can we live in a world where there are people imprisoned as a population? That is the truth of it.
Christian Aid are asking us to give 20p if you have a passport and 10p for every trip outside the UK in the last 12 months. I have a passport but haven't been abroad for a few years; we are going to France in June though and I'm off to Zambia in July so I commit to donate 40p.
I have a much better idea, we should panic walk. Instead of worrying about the fuel we should walk or cycle anywhere we can thereby saving fuel.
Do you think panic walking will catch on?
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” And in that place many believed in Jesus.
There is something really fascinating in the fact that Jesus says they don't have to believe he is the son of God but they surely can believe his works. There are so many people I know who struggle to accept the 'son of God' thing but completely accept the works and majesty of Jesus and see something in that.
Is that really enough?
I've always felt that it is because it's the place I started and from that Grace brought me on.
Jesus is allowing us to accept what we can here, what a blessing to hear.
Jesus we celebrate your ministry and preaching and ask for your grace in our understanding. Amen
Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
At this they exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?” Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”. “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”. “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
It is the end of this passage that stays with me.
Before Abraham was born, I am
Not I was, but I am. Because I am has special meaning and they would have known it. This was a declaration of being God, this was more than they could stand. Jesus told them how it was and is and shall be.
And the bizarrely he slips away; he basically hides and runs away. This isn't the Jesus we're used to. What is this all about? It really reminds me about the humanity of Jesus and its good to be reminded of that as we approach Easter.
Jesus you are God and yet you were man, we don't always fully understand that but we thank you for the reality you are. Amen
Thursday, 29 March 2012
75% of those killed or wounded in war are civilian. In world war one it was only 5% .
When we watch films like War Horse we are reminded of the horror of world war one and the waste of young lives who died fighting for their country. I find myself relieved that hand to hand conflict like that is a thing of the past.
But then I hear this statistic and I realise the horror that takes it's place. Now less soldiers are killed, but through the use of automated weapons and missiles from afar we see more civilian casualties. No longer is war confined to a battlefield. Now war moves to where people live, where the enemy hides.
Christian Aid are asking us to give 10p for every country you know of in conflict. Ok, I'm going to show my ignorance now, so please forgive me. Here are the countries u know to be in conflict:
That's 17 countries that I can think of, so I commit to donate £1.70 and to pray for peace in each of these places.
Wednesday, 28 March 2012
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
I'm going to tell a story and I need you to join in:
When you hear me say Donkey I want you to say hee-aw
When you hear me say Jesus I want you to say Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
When you hear me say Crowds I want you to clap your hands and cheer
When you hear me say Palms I want you to swish swish swish your hands
One hot day it was the festival of passover so Jesus and his friends walked all the way to Jerusalem. When they got close Jesus told his friends that he needed a Donkey for the last part of the journey so that all the Crowds could see him. Jesus' friends didn't know where to get a Donkey, but Jesus pointed them towards a village and said that they could find a Donkey there. He was right and soon Jesus had a Donkey. Jesus got on the Donkey and they rode into Jerusalem. As soon as they were inside the city there were Crowds everywhere. The crowds waved Palms and clapped their hands and cheered to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem. Some of the people even threw their palms and coats on the ground for Jesus on the Donkey to walk over. It was a wonderful welcome for Jesus, they were welcoming their king.I was amazed by how the kids engaged with the story, and we had a little chat about how Mary went on a donkey and now Jesus was on a donkey. I don't think I'd seen that connection before, but now it seems so obvious. The humble donkey, a safe form of passage for the Messiah and his mother.
Christian Aid partner MCSL works with Sierra Leonean chieftancy systems to resolve conflict .
This has got the best way forward, to work with established systems and structures. It is such a relief to see we've finally moved beyond the idea that we should impose our governmental structures and then be shocked when it doesn't work.
Christian Aid are asking us to give prayers for people living in conflict today. As we read, listen and watch our news each day it can seem as if we're in a time with more conflict than ever before. And certainly there is too much conflict but I doubt it is any more than has always existed. But the good news is that we can all bring change by asking and demanding agencies to assist in the achievement of peace and reconciliation.
Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”. Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.” “Abraham is our father,” they answered. “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me.
There are such powerful images in this passage, from the fact that Jesus tells us our earthly fathers are nothing in comparison to Father God; to the fact that we are slaves to sin but can be freed by accepting the grace of God.
I read these words with joy and love and hope; yet when I read them to Mike, who doesn't have faith, he sees a dictator trying to change things.
Is Jesus a dictator?
No, absolutely not; because he does not force his will on anyone. Instead Jesus is offering a way of joy that we can choose to live.
Jesus we thank you for setting us free in your love, help us share that more than the dictates which many from the outside hear. Amen.
Tuesday, 27 March 2012
I had the idea of making a cross of people for this week, of showing how the cross is of us, for us and all about us. I showed the kids these pictures of people making the shape of the cross.
the finger cross
the standing cross
the hole in the crowd cross
but, as often happens when you journey in scripture with kids, they showed me a deeper meaning and an image which they felt worked better. They focussed on the cross being about love and protection and that the verses of John tell them about being fathered by God. Here was their choice of image.
people affected by conflicts around the world are displaced, on average, by 20 years.
I've often wondered how long it is before people get back to their homes after wars and disasters, but I never imagined it would be 2 decades. This means that thousands of children grow up away from their homes and away from security and community, what a travesty.
Christian Aid are asking us to give 20p for every house love you have chosen to make. I chose to go to university, chose to go to a second university, chose to move to Reading and chose to move to this home; that's 4 moves so I'll donate 80p.
Dispute Over Who Jesus Is
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.” This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?” But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” “Who are you?” they asked. “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is trustworthy, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.” They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” Even as he spoke, many believed in him.
Today I am struck by the words he who sent me is trustworthy. Trusting and relying on God completely has been really hard for me to do. And I know for a fact I'm in good company because almost everyone finds it hard. It's about handing over decisions and reliance from human hands to God's hands.
As we approach Holy Week we are reminded how Jesus trusted God, let us follow his example.
''We can do no great things - only small things with great love.'
Isn't this empowering.
I find this so reassuring.
I don't have to sweat the big things.
I don't have to change the world.
I don't have to help everyone.
I can hold two hands
I can comfort one person
I can work with a few families
As long as I do what I do with love, care, compassion and a big heart then that's enough.
And when we look at all the many small things Mother Teresa herself did with great love, we can see that they add up to something great with God's help.
Monday, 26 March 2012
I adore the stars and it's one of the things I'm looking forward to seeing better on the trip to Zambia - a clear view of the night sky.
Tonight, even in light drenched Wokingham, you'd have had to have been blind not to have seen the crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter in the early evening sky. I was running into a meeting and didn't manage to get a photo, but when I got home at 930pm I couldn't resist seeing whether I could capture even some of the majesty.
And I'm pretty impressed what my iPhone has achieved. You can clearly see the crescent moon and Venus alongside. By this point Jupiter had moved too far put of alignment but she still looked fabulous to the naked eye.
It's on nights like these that I want a telescope.
It's on nights like these that God seems very close.
Welcome to week six of lent and the sixth week of counting our blessings with Christian Aid. This week's focus is reconciliation.
one in three people in Angola faced a demand for a bribe from
Officials within the last year.
When we talk about corruption in our Government we're talking about David Cameron having a meal with a party contributor and therefore possibly allowing influence from business. We take this very seriously and we demand accountability and transparency. Instead of seeing this as the success of our system we see it as a failure of individuals. Sadly we live in a world where individuals will fail, but we don't realise this because our system protects us. Imagine living in Angola and trying to get permission to move to another district; you'd need money to move, and then money upon money to bribe whoever must approve it. This is life in so many areas of the world, we don't know how lucky we are.
Christian Aid are asking us to give thanks for our police and governments who act for our protection. Thanks indeed.
I started by asking the kids to go and find something in the garden that reminds them about nature and God and His wonderful creation of the world. Some of the kids picked daisies, a few others picked one daffodil which they shared, some got twigs and fircones and one found a massive branch. We stood in a circle with our objects and offered thanks to God in prayer for His creation and His love of us. It was so amazing to stand in the spring sunshine and pray; such a joy.
Our kids that came to God Squad yesterday have amazing imaginations; I therefore did something which I wouldn't do if some other kids had been with us, especially those with some special needs. It is so important to know the kids you minister to!
I divided the kids into two groups and asked them to each pretend they were building a house as a team. One built a very very tall house, it was reaching all the way up to the sky; the other team built a wide house with just two floors. They told me all about the bricks and stones and tiles and cement and sticks they were using; it was fantastic to watch.
When the houses were completed I told them that the wide house was starting to sink because it was built on sand. They were so shocked and all the kids in that house started climbing up the stairs to the top floor. The kids in the other house were cheering them on and telling them to keep climbing. The kids in the sinking house realised that they couldn't stay in their house so when they got to the roof they all jumped off and the other house welcomed them in.
Now all the kids were in the big tall house I asked them whether they thought their house would be safe. A few of them realised which Bible story we were engaging with, but some didn't and so weren't sure. The kids who knew the story then asked if their house was built on rock and when I said it was they reassured the other kids, mostly younger, that their house was safe and sound on the rock it was built on.
To reinforce the story we sang the song, the wise man built his house upon the rock, and the kids all joined in with the actions. That was fun and I realised that we must have been heard inside the church and by some of the houses nearby; you can't beat the joy of singing.
Before we headed inside for some craft we did two more activities.
The first was to compare a long, strong bamboo rod with a short, weak blade daisy stalk. The kids all felt the two objects and we talked about being strong with Jesus and being weak when we forget to ask for his help. The second was a game of Jesus says (Simon says) which the kids loved and which helped me get them inside when we completed with Jesus says doing a funny walk into the hall.
The craft was two fold.
There was an active craft of building a lego structure which we then tried to balance first on small clay balls and then on large clay rocks. The kids loved this, especially the boys, and had loads of fun knocking over the unstable towers on the balls and making sure the ones of the rock stayed firm.
The other craft was the making of a house built on a rock. Most of the kids made a picture using some squares and triangles for the house and tissue paper underneath for the rock. But some made 3d models of houses which they worked hard at. Here are some of the results, I never got a photo of the most complex house but take it from me, it was amazing.
I love the way the kids know that they can take my ideas or adapt them in a way that works for them. I adore the fact that they chose to write their own words about Jesus being their rock. And I loved the way they fed back to the congregation back in church.
I love these kids, they rock on their rocks!
Will, this is for you.
Thank you for being a great brother and friend.
All my love, your big sis.
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
We're in the fifth week of lent with Palm Sunday approaching; and so today we're taken back to the beginning and we start to think about Jesus' life and mission.
As you'll know if you followed by "Journeying with Mary" series last year, I enjoy looking at Jesus' story from his mums perspective. It must be the mum in me now.
Today I am reminded that Mary gives herself over as the Lord's Servant; may we all hear and follow that same call on our lives.
Sunday, 25 March 2012
A friend of mine in America took this photo this week, over the Atlantic Ocean looking towards us. When I saw it I was reminded that we all look up into the same sky, observe the same stars, and of course are lit by the same sun.
Why did this photo bring this to mind?
Because its very similar to the one I took from our own English coast as I looked out to sea earlier this year.
As the miles separate us from family and friends its so nice to be reminded that we are connected as the sun shines down on us.
Too many to remember, too many to comprehend.
So many names each with a meaning beyond everything.
what better way can there be to celebrate these names than with a word cloud, here it is, enjoy.
Or the gorgeous little chick?
How about the duckling?
Or the lamb?
No, of course it's the Easter Egg isn't it?
But no, that's not it either.
It's this simple and powerful image, the cross.
So where are they in the shops?
You have to hunt pretty hard, and believe me I have, to find a single cross related craft, gift or card this Easter, something has gone pretty wrong. And it's not that there's no room for the animals celebrating creation or the egg representing new life, or maybe an empty tomb; it's just that it would be nice if there was also the cross at the centre of this Christian Festival.
Jesus Predicts His Death
Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die
a decade ago, trapped in a cycle of violence and crime, Humphrey could not have imagined that he would be driving change within his community in Kenya. With help from Christian Aid partner Maji na Ufansi Humphrey learned the skills needed to lead Kiambui Youth Group and now runs one of the five water and sanitation blocks Muji built in Kiambui.
What a fantastic tale of hope; an example which the western world are so poor to enact within our own countries. It is fantastic to know that projects like this exist to turn around lives individually and as a community.
Christian Aid are asking us to give thanks for young people throughout the world who make a real difference. Today I use this opportunity to thank the young people at St Nics who assist, serve, lead, question and feed me with all they are. Christian Aid are also asking us to give 10p for every rubbish bin or waste paper basket you have in your home. We have 3 in our house, we used to have many more but I rationalised. So I commit 30p.
Mike loves Running Man (film from 1987) and had heard The Hunger Games was a similar film. I just knew I had to see this film which everyone's talking about and which filled me with horror.
II's hard to say much about the film without completely spoiling it for you so I'll just repeat what everyone's already heard.
The setting is a bleak post-apocalyptic future world where the central government controls its outlying population through domination and starvation and slavery and, most horrifying of all, an annual reality show featuring young people chosen from the land's various outlying districts. The young people, ages 12 to 18, are forced to fight one another to the death, for the sport of the Capitol's citizens and to remind the districts how completely they are at the mercy of their rulers.
The main character of the film is Katniss Everdeen who volunteers for the games in place of her younger sister. We know she's a hunter and completely connected to nature. We know she dreams of better and has hope for a future. It is this hope which runs through the film.
There is horror and shock in this film; I cried, gasped, jumped and cowered during it; but mostly there is a hope that shines through it all.
A hope for life, a hope for love, a hope for freedom, a hope for equality and a hope for humanity.
This is why it's worth watching and that's why I'm now going to read the books. Because hope matters and can drive us to change our world for the better - something we can all do with being reminded of.