Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him (James 2:5)

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(This has kind of turned out to be a novel, so bear with me)

A 21st century Western world wonders why they can’t see Jesus. We plead with Him to perform the miracles of The Bible within our ‘mundane’ existence, we bid the Holy Spirit to come at our church gatherings as a means of receiving his gifts rather than His challenges and we don’t welcome the the small soft voice, but the fanfare and fireworks. We long for dreams, signs, visions and encounters for ourselves, and we jump on the back of other people’s stories of God’s faithfulness and provision often without the capability of telling our own. We become like the fisherman just off Gailee’s shores, seemingly toiling but not ‘taking’ anything. Why can’t we see Jesus? Answer: because we don’t need Him enough.


We haven’t become expectant of God but expecting of Him (I think there’s a difference). We expect God to heal our problems after a snug day working at the office, or we expect the Holy Spirit to just slot into our everyday habitual lives where our biggest form of suffering for Jesus has been the snide remark when we tell a friend we’ve spent our Sunday at church. We live lives free of risk when infact God calls us to risk everything. Christianity was, and is not a call to be comfortable, it’s a call to surrender and to pick up our cross (Luke 9:23). The Disciples knew that more than anyone. I’m sure we’ve all sung it- “You can have all this world, but give me Jesus” do we mean that? Can we echo Paul when he says to live is Christ and to die is gain?” (Philippians 1:21), that’s no light statement and, surrendering never came easy to anyone. The cost of something proves it’s worth, and so if it didn’t cost us anything then it probably wasn’t worth anything (yeah, i’m cringing at that corny line too). This though, only proves the worthiness of God who is our greatest prize.

Yet, instead of living in light of this, we become de-sensitised and easily distracted as we live for the things of this earth, investing ourselves in things which will soon fail and fade. We bargain with God; we tell him He can have our 10% but not our 100%, our Sundays but not our weekdays, our music but not our drinking addiction. We live lives of plenty where God is on mute and a mere addition, as we keep hold of the very things that stop us from seeing more of God. We give Him a portion and expect Him to prove Himself. Well, God doesn’t owe us anything or need to prove anything. It’s not God who should dance for us, it’s us who should dance for Him (Matthew 11:16-17).

I think a big part too is that we have become a proud people where we see “denying ourselves”(Luke 9:23) as more of a burden than a blessing. We shower pity on the third world, largely unaware of the poverty in our own lives. To see Jesus we need to be willing to see. Corrie Ten Boom wrote that “you may never know that JESUS is all you need, until JESUS is all you have.” I saw this tried and tested in Kenya. Materially yes, the country is desolate but their understanding of their poverty drives them to God making them rich both in spirit and community. As a result of this Timothy says, they will inherit the Kingdom of heaven. They are rich in faith because they have allowed God to take his worthy place where we have never enabled God, or given Him the space to be all we need.

When I was last visiting Kenya, I got to join in with the voices of 70 boarders from an all girls’ school in Limuru and praise and worship God for around two hours. The tin building where we gathered could not contain the glory being lifted to God that morning. After worshipping the girls have a chance to come forward and present something to the rest of the school. This can be anything from a dance, to a poem or a song. One girl came to the front after we’d all sang ‘seek ye first’ and she echoed the need for Jesus to be at the very centre of our lives and for us to be seeking after Him and not what our world will try and tell us we need to look for. She spoke of her Mum being her idol, and finding it easy to put all her hopes and trust into her. She would ask her mum to pray on behalf of her and had come to believe that her mum was all she needed. As the girl went on she mentioned that her Mum had died two years before, and though painful- it took her mum’s death to lift God up into his rightful place and to know that Jesus was all she needed, and that she would pray for her life to remain that way. This was the cry of a sixteen year old heart.

We so easily store our hopes in friends, fashion, technology and media believing it to hold the answers. I saw Kenyans call upon Jesus not for provision for a holiday later in the year, but to have food for the day. Not for weather to enable a nice day at the beach, but for rain to water the land for food, not for a thinner body, or a prettier face, but for wisdom of doctors in providing medication to heal their sick and dying child. They know the provision of God daily because they reach out to Him daily. They’re rich in faith because they give him room to exercise His faithfulness and steadfastness.

After reading Mark Buchannan’s book ‘Your God is Too Safe’ I feel like I’ve started writing like Him. So, if i’m being too punchy and forthright then maybe we can blame him. But, aside from that, what he ultimately says in his book is so true. We as Christians are not made for borderland yet many of us are there. We’re stagnating in a mediocre and lukewarm life where God is wanting, and willing to beckon us out into the valley beyond.

What I have written is as much as a challenge to me as it is to you. I’m a culprit of everything I’ve condemned, and though I know God does speak and the Holy Spirit is showing many of you incredible things, there is so much more for us that He wants us to taste if we are only willing. I have found that it is when I have put myself so far out of my comfort zone that I can see my reliance shift so far that it no longer becomes about what I can do alone, but what I can do through God, and with God. Yet, I’m not meant only to feel this sensation monthly but ‘daily’ (Luke 9:23). And, as Jesus said that, James calls the church to “listen” not for a brief moment of attention at the point of writing, but to alter our lives to listen. *Has* God not chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Yes, I believe he has. I also know that I want to be amidst those ‘chosen’. I long to know Jesus better and see my faith explode as I filter away the things of this world and give Him his righteous place. I long to boast of the wonders He has done in my life, not in a quest to make myself better or bring any praise to myself, but to bring Him all the glory He deserves, and, I long for His inheritance not as a means to escape the throws of the devil but as an invitation to spend all of eternity with my Saviour.

Do you want to see Jesus?

Jim Eliot- “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

make something

I want to introduce you to Mrs Jellyby…well, Dickens does. If you pick up a copy of Bleakhouse, (that’s if you can lift the 900 pages of it) you’l find her in Chapter 4. Callous, and fanciful, her eyes are fixed on things afar. Her family crumble beneath her, and her children, hungry and half-clothed, are as wild and neglected as she believes the natives of Borrioboola-Gha, (on the banks of the Niger) to be. Her husband has been driven to bankruptcy and the “furnished lodging” in which her family reside is littered and squalid.

The chapter is entitled ‘Telescopic Philanthropy’ for the very reason that Mrs Jellyby’s burning, all consuming desire is invested in her philanthropic efforts. These efforts do however come at her cost; her pre-occupation may be foreign, but the need is domestic. Her “rapacious benevolence” is at the dispense of her household and her neighbourhood.

After musing over Mrs Jellyby’s condition in my latest essay it got me thinking that despite Dickens’ somewhat satirical portrayal of the situation, he is making a definite point. We, and I’m pointing the finger at myself more than anyone, can become so caught up in looking beyond, that we forget the desperate need on our doorsteps.

I, funnily enough, like Mrs Jellyby have a real passion for Africa and am currently seeking God’s heart as to my future. But, until God takes me there, or whatever he has planned for my life, I have a purpose here. Right here in London. I mean this city is garnished with need, and i often forget that in letting my mind run riot with foreign thinking, and as a result neglect my nation.

How about your neighbours?Are they doing okay? Well, In a 2009 study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, only 19% of people polled said they knew all of their neighbours’ names, and only 24% said they knew most of them. We live less than five feet or so away from them yet we know nothing about them. They need Jesus too. The child who faintly tinkles his recorder at five in the afternoon, he needs Jesus. The troubled teen with the bass cranked up sitting in the drive, he needs Jesus. The couple arguing all day, everyday, they need Jesus. And, i am the harvester of God’s great light…”the anointed one to preach the news to the nations”…do they know?

Six or so years ago, we had a new set of neighbours move next door to us, a Taiwanese family I believe. One sunny day a few weeks after the move in; I looked outside from my bedroom window to see the Dad cutting the lawn with a pair of shears. Yes, the whole lawn. I mean, it wasn’t a huge lawn, but it was lawn enough to enable me to see a visible sweat breaking on his brow. While he was sweating, a few feet away sat a lawn mower in my shed, most probably crying out to be used. I watched him almost til the final snip through the very slight opening of my curtains, which just about hid my guilt for each time he severed another green blade, and my stomach sank as it urged me to offer him what sat inside our shed.

I mean, if i can’t even offer him a lawn mower, then i have no chance of telling him about Jesus. And no, I can’t blame this English reserve, and, how ever many times i try to bring justice to my own poorly constructed actions I only have my self to blame for the fear which so often cripples us.

In the three years in which we shared that patch of territory, the only contact we ever had directly with them was the awkward glances over the inappropriately low fence when either party was hanging out washing, or, the hand salutes which would pass as we’d offer each other the car parking space when we happened to turn into the drive at the same time, or, the trading of goods at the fence when they had somehow managed to find themselves on the wrong side.

Three years. THREE YEARS! We didn’t even know their names, and they probably didn’t even know that I had a relationship with Jesus. I mean, we sing about it on a Sunday…about shining a light to let the whole world see, yet, we can’t even let that light permeate through the half hearted attempt at a garden fence because we’ve never bothered or tried to have a conversation to allow it to.

It’s not even about ulterior motives or a conversion count. It’s not about offering them a bible and in under a minute giving them the tour of Christianity, and for the finale, the alter call. It’s about serving, serving selflessly. Serving that asks for nothing in return so we can reflect that little bit of Jesus into their lives and letting that power alone burst forth into something almighty.

We can’t sit and wait for the world to come to us, that’s a little silly. If God had done that then we would have a pretty hopeless future, He came down to us as a baby, and in turn God commands us to “Go OUT into the world…”. Go out and make a conscious effort to make something good of your day. Get to know your neighbours, drop round an extra batch of cookies, stop to chat, invite them to a service, take their bins round, sweep their side of the wall. Whatever it is, SERVE because Jesus served first. 

This is as much a test to me as well as you, DON’T you worry. I’ve just moved into a new house, and apart from introducing myself to the neighbours when i first moved in, it has once again failed to get much further than that.

God calls us to live lives defined by love, God commands us to love our neighbours and he wishes for us to live a life full of service to others.

Esther Summerson, the voice of reason in Bleak house, and quite the opposite of Mrs Jellyby, sums up my closing point pretty perfectly: “I thought it best to be as useful as I could, and to render what kind services I could to those immediately about me, and to try to let that circle of duty gradually and naturally expand itself.”

It starts here. It starts at the house adjoining, and it spreads down the street and THEN it conquers the town, city and nation.

I dare you. I dare you to love your community and live radical lives of love and to then reap the harvest of blessing when God’s voice echoes from heaven ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.

 

Matthew 18: 3- And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Caring for Life

After boxing up our home last September and travelling 186 miles Northwards to Leeds in response to God’s calling, we have found our dwelling place here..

..Two miles up the road is a farm oozing with the very tangible presence of God, its foundation prayer and its currency faith.  It is a charity with the wish to share Jesus with as many people they know, especially homeless and vulnerable adults. Its promise to care for life is much like the Saviour’s promise to us. No matter how downcast, beyond hope, or help these people are, no matter how old or able, there will always be love and support for them. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty of everything i’ve seen here.

I have been working on the farm when I am back from University and have had the chance of building relationships, and soaking up the precious nature of these people. The prayers they send heavenwards in the morning when we eat breakfast together are simple, yet laced with trust. Plea’s towards Jesus through broken speech, stutters, and mis-phrased sentences make their wishes so honest and true, much how God intended them to be. For many, Jesus has become  their comforter and their knowledge of a true Father aside from many earthly Father’s they have been hurt by in the past. It is clear to see what years of physical abuse, mental abuse, mistreatment, sleeping rough and so on, have done to these people but, their hope in Jesus means they are new creations.

I had the delight of sitting down with one guy the other week and on discussing Christmas he also happily proclaimed that he was soon to be baptised. I don’t know much about his past, but it is clear to see how his past has conditioned much of who he is today. As he spoke, and spoke so happily about the date, time, plans, feelings etc., i stopped him part way through his next thoughts as i had lost track of who he was speaking about as it sounded as if he’d changed conversation and was speaking about a friend. When I then questioned him as to who he was talking about, he simply answered ‘Jesus of course.’

I thought over this discussion for the next few days. The way he spoke about Jesus was like he was seated just next to Him. He spoke with such abandon, largely unaware of a world view of Jesus and simply making Jesus his own. Joy scorched his face as he discussed the reasons which had led him to decide to be baptised.

We are called to have this faith yet it is suffocated amongst our facades and forgery. We often come before God, i know I have before, and in the presence of others, like the pompous Pharisee. We come with measured speech, and altered tone addressing God as ‘Father’ and ‘Most precious Jesus’, whilst being unable to befriend Him day to day in amidst our busy lives. I’ve before prayed what I think to be right rather than pouring forth the reserves of my heart. I’ve covered up shame with praises, and pinned my problems to other people’s pleas.

These people here, through the brokenness of their pasts, cling to Jesus trusting simply in Him. Many can’t even read the bible, many don’t know bible verses off by heart, how many wives King David had or where the Lords prayer is to be found, but, they do know about a man coming down to earth as a baby to save their sins many years ago. This is the crux of Christianity, not anything we, a 21st century society has made it to be. Their faith is simple but in no way diminished. God has welcomed them into His Kingdom with arms wide open, and the angels I’m sure are rejoicing.

Jesus said Himself, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, and this, what i see at the farm, is childlike nature at it’s best. Jesus doesn’t call us to be false, he calls us to be free. He asks for humility instead of pride and trust instead of hesitancy.

A few final things. I had the privilege of spending Christmas day at the farm this year with many people in the Charity’s care. I had the joy of picking up two ladies in the morning who lived in Leeds to drive them to Church before we went to the farm, one of the ladies i picked up is on the photo above. She is 46 yet has the spirit of a child no more than 8. Every day is Christmas really, and as i knocked on her door on Christmas morning her face brought me such joy. Her enthusiasm is unquenchable and her presence is without blemish. As i stood next to her in the church service as she belted out mumbled words along to ‘Hark the Herald angels sing’ with her arm wrapped round my waist, i had only but to thank God for his wonderful Christmas gift. Jesus came for the lowly, the downcast and the down trodden as well as the privileged, and well-polished. His merciful eyes favour not one more than the other, yet his call for us to come as children is clear.

In my below par musings, i have no where near done this charity justice, so please get to know a little bit about them yourselves and have a look at their website.

http://www.caringforlife.co.uk/index.html

Psalm 91:1  He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

So i largely suck at writing blogs i get it.

Hopefully in the run up to Christmas the festive juices will start to flow and I’l feel a little more creative.

But anyway…

Here’s a little something.

I was wholly uneducated about London town before i came. I thought for instance that walking from tube stop to tube stop was out of the question believing they were so spread apart. I’ve come to learn that people don’t appreciate dawdlers…you pick up your pace or you get trampled, and I now know to not get on the tube at rush hour unless I want to be breathing someone else’s breath, in what is a seriously tight squeeze.

For the past few weeks I’ve been attempting to discover the clandestine London. The areas which are tucked away and rarely trodden. So…after being in Senate house library (on Russell Square) each Wednesday i make an effort to take a different route to Soho where i meet with people from church. This has proved fun, tiresome at times due to awful navigation skills but, equally rewarding.

Just off from the rammed Covent Garden, alive with the heavy tread of soles on the worn out pavement, away from the coffee machines working double time to grind the beans to satisfy the demands, and the repetition of the finger on the camera’s shutter snapping endlessly at the street performers, is an overgrown, wild, and eclectic garden taking refuge from the city scape. It is dwarfed by the monstrous buildings which surround it, yet, silenced by the slight separation from the urban hum. Wildlife dances from leaf to leaf and couples mooch within, satisfied by the green from the grey. Many miss it.
I felt almost naughty being inside. But more than that it made me think. It’s like our relationship with God. We go about our daily lives, usually consumed with the roaring nature of technology, work, people, and, our own desires. God can so easily be drowned out by our choice of escapades. It’s not until we seek the silence and step away from this that we discover where God is. Like the garden he’s been there all the time, immovable and waiting for us to stop and discover, and he’s beckoning us in. He’s always wanting to talk to us but we’re just too absorbed elsewhere to hear. But, when we do find Him, we find such deep satisfaction in His presence, His garden is far more bounteous than the delights i found, His grass grows greener, and His flowers bloom brighter and He wants us in there with Him.
It made me think of the lyrics to a song which i think i may have posted before…

“The more i seek you, the more i find you. The more i find you, the more I love you.
I want to sit at your feet, drink from the cup in your hand. Lay back against you and breath,
hear your heart beat. This love is so deep, it’s more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it’s overwhelming.”

Lord, give us the eyes to see You and the ears to hear You. May we find You in the mundane and the scurried days and want to sit at Your feet. I pray that I will fully come to understand that You have so much more to offer than the world can, and you wait for me to enter into Your beautiful presence. May I seek You more.

Bastille are top dogs. They’ve been behind the scenes for a while, and it’s only now they’re on the verge/are, taking the music world by storm. Numerous elements collide to create genre defying, and magical music, making this cover a serious rival to the original.

Earlier this year Bastille released a great mix tape called ‘Other People’s Heartache’, a series of covers ranging from OutKast’s ‘Ms. Jackson’ to ‘Rhythm is a Dancer.’ Get ya hands on it hasty.

They’re set to be your ‘new favourite band’ if they aren’t already.

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