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Walk as Jesus Did December 12, 2014

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Another reflection for the facebook wall of Emmanuel Beach Team:

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6 NIV)

People copy others all the time, don’t they? The latest fashions, the latest trends, the latest styles – the flavours tend to change with the seasons but it is amazing how much we love to be a copy of others. The book of 1John has started with a pronouncement of witnessing to Jesus, the need to walk a Holy life and then mentions that “if we love Him, we will obey His commands”. Then we have the modern day conundrum – copy someone, but make it Jesus. Walk as Jesus walked – in close communion with the Father, in the light of His goodness knowing freedom from sin because of Christ.

We need to live our lives as Jesus did, abandoned to the Father and pointing to Him with our lives. It is no easy task but we have Jesus and we have each other – this is the community of faith, this is the Church.

Loving one another in the online world August 26, 2014

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After being a little absent on the social networks these last few weeks, it has been interesting to review things that are happening and seeing the responses of people. One of the things that has caught my eye is the amount of vitriol that can come from the keypads of Christians when somebody appears to step on some of their own strongly held doctrinal viewpoints, or another ‘champion of faith’ is brought into question.
It is right that we contend for our faith and that we are careful to guard our doctrine but too often we have allowed ourselves to slip in to a barrage of abusive behaviours to others. Disagreement is a part of life, differences of opinion are to be expected but the line is surely crossed when we begin personal attacks that are, at best, abusive.
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” is the verse that springs to mind – words that Jesus used as he predicted his betrayal and just before his conversation with Peter regarding Peters own denial of Jesus. In the darkest moments, love one another….it is the thing that marks out God’s people from others. Surely if we are to make an impact for the gospel, we should bear this in mind in the way we communicate with one another….even more so in the public forums that are available to us. Recently, many have gone beyond saying ‘You fool!’ (see Matthew 5:21) and that leads to destruction – let’s be people who are strong, yet loving, courageous, yet gentle and let’s love one another so that we may see many more enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a result of our witness.

More advent reflections on Joseph December 14, 2013

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Thrown into this prison cell
Through no fault of my own
Honouring my master
Yet from him no mercy shown
What can I do? what’s next for me?
The answers yet unknown.

It’s possible to languish
In this dark and painful place
Or try and make it bearable
And provide for hope a space

The seeds of promise have been sown
Helping others in their pain
Alas sorrows continue
And still in solitude I remain

Driving on and moving forward, Where is God in this?
Have I been long forgotten and are my cries a silent wish?

Longing and waiting, for there must be better days
But they are hidden from us, they are God’s mysterious ways.

Help me from my prison cell, dear God that is my desire
Rekindle the dying embers
Make a spark, a roaring fire.
There’s more than this, there’s more to see, tell me God what you require

Bible Verses that Sting Me (Part 3) May 29, 2013

Posted by thehutch in church, ponderings, theology, thoughts.
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Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.”  Titus 3:10-11

 

Ok, so this verse does not sting me in quite the same as the previous verses in this little series, rather, it troubles me. How can I have nothing to do with somebody? What happened to the forgiving 70 times 7 in Matthew 18:22? If I was to follow this through, how can the love of God be found in me?  When I have tried to act upon this verse it is not long before there is a need to act ‘in love’ and with forgiveness…..am I then being untrue to the Word of God?

This verse really troubles me, I want to understand it, in fact I have tried to get beneath each individual word and see if there is something obvious that is missing but it continually comes around to seeming contradictions. AGGGGHHHHH! The context does not help dramatically but what it does share with me, is the truth that there are times when you have to ‘stop playing ball’ with some people. That truth does sting me….sure, there are some folk who I would rather avoid forever, but this does not sit with Matthew 6:14ff for me. I guess the real issues to address are;

1) What is love? Yes, you can love and hate at the same time….our issue is our interpretation of love.

2) What is forgiveness?

3) What does it mean to be ‘divisive’?

4) Can even a divisive person know God’s mercy? Should we, therefore, reciprocate?

It is not my favourite couple of verses but they are some verses that I will keep mulling over and I will trust the Holy Spirit to illuminate my own thinking in that time.

Bible verses that sting me (part 2) May 5, 2013

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So it is time to reference the next verses that challenge my very soul.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Oh my! How challenging are these words? So often these words seem to be ignored by many Christians when we refer to conflict and the need for reconciliation, they are tough words to hear and, in my opinion, tougher to enact.

I find that it is much easier to pray for those who persecute me, easier to ‘love’ my enemies but forgiveness is so much harder. How on earth do you ‘let go’ and remember their sins no more? Is it right to? As a Christian, it is liberating to know that Jesus will forgive my sins and if my reading is correct, they are also forgotten when that forgiveness is received, though my sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. I struggle with these verses in Matthew 6.

When reading the Old Testament narrative of Joseph, we see a man who goes through utter torment and also great blessing. He has fun with his brothers and concludes by saying, ‘what you intended for harm, God intended for good’ – what a beautiful expression. Joseph sees the bigger narrative than the one he lives, he sees the greater narrative of God himself. It is the gospel enacted,refreshing, challenging and liberating, but still, I struggle to behave this way myself.

I am fortunate that there are not many people where there is a struggle to forgive wrongs done but there are a couple (still too many). This struggle leaves me straining in the depths of my soul and I have all the excuses….’but they never said sorry’, ‘their behaviour has not changed, so why should I forgive’ etc. etc etc., yet, these arguments are weak if I want forgiveness, There is need to forgive too! Ouch! The truth is, there are people who may well feel the same about me, there are bound to be those whom I have hurt, knocked down and bruised, would I desire forgiveness from them? Of course, yet that seems easier to deal with than when things are in reverse.

I have not arrived there yet but will try. Time is a healer although one day the timer runs out…..my prayer is that it will not be too late.

Lord, help me to forgive, help me to love as you love, that you may be praised, honoured and glorified.

Bible verses that sting me (part 1) May 1, 2013

Posted by thehutch in personal, ponderings.
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As a Christian, I seek to listen to and understand what the Bible is teaching and make attempts, though not always successful, at putting its truth into practice. There are some verses that trouble me because they challenge me. Two such verses are;

if anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)

Those verses hit me right between the eyes! Imagine that, sharing my possessions with people in need. Using the things I possess to help and support others. How willing am I to do this type of thing? It is not something that is easy, in fact it is probably something that I should be more willing to do, but my selfish nature does not allow it.

There have been some occasions in my life where I have been good, on one occasion insuring my car for a time so that a neighbour had transport when her car was unusable. It was right to do but the surprise for me was that it was members of the church who had the greatest objection. They were horrified that, as the Youth Minister, I would be so free with my possessions and not more protective. We obviously had not shared enough from 1John in our church!

What about our money? What about our homes? Our computers? Our mobile phones? Our treasures are in heaven, not on earth, where moth, rust and decay settle in, yet we can be so hesitant. God’s gifts are given to be used in His service, not for us to hoard and control for our own ends only. A truth that is far easier to hold in theory than in practice. I have all the excuses, all the reasons why I should keep hold of things for myself but justifying them is more difficult.

I long to live out these things in a better way, thankfully it is a journey and Gods grace is sufficient to help me through my failings, meanwhile, these verses continue to challenge me to the core.

time to reflect? October 15, 2008

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Originally uploaded by thehutch

seek the peace and prosperity of the city into which I have carried you…….you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.