Thursday, November 24, 2005

On being a link in the chain...

How thrilling to see that God has been answering my prayers and I didn't even realise it. Since starting my job I've been praying for opportunities to share the gospel with my boss, but have found it really difficult to get into meaningful conversation with him, as we're so different - in terms of age, outlook, bank balance (!!), everything. I've been working hard, looking to be a witness to the supreme greatness and worth of Christ in the way that I serve (Col 3v17), but have felt disheartened with the lack of opportunities for actual gospel conversation. Then at a work conference, a good friend of my boss came alongside me and thanked me for making my boss think about spiritual things! He told me that my boss had come to him and asked him what it meant to be an evangelical Christian (as that was what I'd identified myself as, and so does his friend), and they had spent some time talking about the gospel! How thrilling that God was answering my prayer all along, and had caused my boss to think about spiritual things by something little I'd said, which had led him to ask his good friend to explain it all to him!

God is so good :)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Stuart Olyott preaching on depression - wow - so true, so helpful, so rare!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

"Make Me Pure - but not yet" - song by Robbie Williams, sentiments resonating around the church.

Oh Lord, please make me pure - but not yet
I don't have to try I just dial it in
I've never found a job that for me was worth bothering
I got a ton of selfish genes and lazy bones
Beneath this skin
Oh Lord, make me pure - but not yet

This song from his latest album really struck me. He was being interviewed on Radio 2 a couple of weeks ago, and when asked about this song, he said that he's got loads of vices that he knows are really bad for him, so he should give them up. But he enjoys them too much, so doesn't want to give them up yet.

And it really got me thinking. We ("Christians") have our identity in Christ, an identity and relationship that demands purity - we are a chosen people, set apart, to be holy and blameless, shining like stars in this crooked generation. But is that how we look? Are we shining like stars?

As I look in my own heart, and look around, I don't see much shining. I see fading in, blending in with the darkness around us. Because although we're happy to abstain from many sins, there are always some that we keep close to our hearts. The sins that give us pleasure, that make our lives more comfortable. The ones we think aren't that bad. Sometimes in a meeting or when reading the Word we'll feel convicted and pray "Lord, make me pure", but deep down we hope he won't do it just yet. A couple more years, enjoying whatever vice it is, and then maybe in the future some time we'll give it up.

But with that attitude we'll nevergive them up. We'll keep them in our hearts, and let them inhibit our relationship with God, and grieve His heart. Because we're looking at ourselves. If we were to turn our gaze fully on to Him, we would be ashamed. We would throw away whatever trash has been stealing our affections from Him, and beg Him for mercy. And we would live lives that count for eternity. Our friends and colleagues would see Christ in us. They'd see people who don't live for themselves, but spend al their energies seeking to glorify God.

Lord, break down my self-centredness, my obsession with my own needs. Show me your face, your glory, and humble me, bring me down to the depths of humility so that I fall at your feet crying for mercy. Then use me, as your vessel, to proclaim the gospel to those who are perishing, and to encourage my brothers and sisters. (Psalm 51)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Swansea University Houseparty
28th-30th October 2005


“Motivation for study”

What is motivation?
Motivation: “an inducement or an incentive; something that leads us to act in a certain way to achieve a goal.”

Why do I find it so hard to study?!!
It's boring & often seems pointless
Better, more interesting things to be doing
Would rather do something for God, e.g. witnessing to friends, serving church/CU
God’s design for humanity: Genesis 1v20-31

What sets people apart from animals?
We were made in God's image - we reflect something of God, He is a creative, thinking being, and so are we. We have the ability to learn and process and use information in a way animals can't.

What is God’s command to man, v28?
Fill the earth and subdue it - to subdue I need to learn how the earth works, as I'm doing in my degree, whatever that might look like! We were designed to work. Work is not, contrary to common belief, a result of the fall!! It is part of what we were made to do.

Great quote...
“A Christian who is convinced that this is God’s world, that all truth is God’s truth, and that he is called to serve God in his studies, will begin to experience in even the most difficult of subjects a sense of excitement as he discovers more of the complexity, unity and beauty of the manifold works of God.” Jonathan Lamb
Christ’s design for His church

1) Remember who you are, v1-4
You are in Christ, you have died to self and been raised with Him. So all that you do in your life now, you do in Christ. The whole of your life is to be used to worship God!

2) Be true to your identity, v5-17
Because you are in Christ, sin is no longer fitting for you. Therefore get rid of sin, and put on things that are Christlike. [Note that study is not one of the sins we must put off!! It is not an unworthy occupation, so don't use that as an excuse to slack off!]

3) Show who you are and whose you are in the way you work, v22-24
Here Paul's talking to slaves, but he gives them a work ethic that we can apply to our studies. Work in a manner worthy of Christ. Your work is part of your worship to God, so do it well, even when nobody's watching over you! And by the way, your coursemates are watching you. Are you studying in a way that shows you have been raised with Christ, or are you discrediting the gospel by your behaviour in this area?

Note that academic work does not take second place to more “spiritual” work!

“I believe it is no more necessary to be faithful in preaching the gospel than in washing up dishes… It is not for us, in any case, to choose our work. And if God has chosen it for us, hadn’t we better go straight ahead and do it, without waiting for anything greater, better or ‘nobler’?” James Fraser, missionary to China

Our whole lives are to be occupied in worshipping God and bringing glory to Him. Therefore it is not acceptable to let my studies suffer because I'm so involved in church/CU - doing so is NOT holy, and even if other Christians are impressed by it and think you're really holy, it's rubbish! Don't neglect the very thing you came to university to do and thereby bring shame on the gospel.


How to be a lazy, unproductive, good for nothing student: the example of the sluggard

In each of the following passages, what is the sluggard like? How can we be like this?

Proverbs 6v9-11





Laziness is sinful, makes us look ridiculous, and people will see us as unreliable and annoying!! We must not be like this - remember, we are in Christ now!
And now, how we should behave: the example of the ant!

Read Proverbs 6v6-8. What is it about the ant that makes her a good example for us to follow?
She works in the summer to store up food for the winter - we should be working consistently too. Just because you haven't got any deadlines or exams for a couple of months, doesn't mean you should slack off - work consistently, and you'll be best prepared for assessment.
Also, she works without anyone pressuring her to do it. At uni your parents aren't there to nag you, and your lecturers won't notice if you never hand anything in. But remember that you are not out to please people, but God. Therefore work hard, knowing that He sees you, and will be pleased with your faithfulness.

And in case you haven’t got the hint yet, a few more passages that tell us how we should behave…

Psalm 111v2
Study shouldn't be boring, we are studying the things God has made!
Titus 2v9,10
You discredit the gospel by slacking off - you make it attractive by working well.
2 Thessalonians 3v10-12
Every one of us should earn our keep.
Practical pointers for studying well

1) Make sure you have a good environment to study in – temperature, lighting, noise levels, space, comfort
2) Keep focussed on the purpose of study
3) List and do tasks according to priorities
4) Break tasks down into manageable bits
5) If you’re really struggling with something, speak to your tutor
6) Be realistic in the targets you set for yourself
7) Give yourself rewards for studying
8) Study with coursemates
9) Take breaks when you need them – they’ll help you to concentrate
10) Keep Sunday special, use it for worship and rest – we were not made to function without it!
11) Plan activities outside of work during the week, eg. sports
12) Watch your diet – limit sugar, caffeine and junk food!
13) Get 7-9 hours sleep every day
14) If there are real issues preventing you from studying (ie. illness or circumstances), speak to your tutor.

Recommended reading:

First and foremost, you need to be daily reading your Bible, praying that God will show you more of Himself and keep your eyes fixed on Him.

Then make sure you read the texts your tutors recommend – they’ll help you to understand the course better, and enjoy it more.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ephesians 1v17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints

Over the past few weeks, seeing old friends, studying Titus in YL, hearing Ian Walsh preaching at Swansea Uni's CU houseparty (where I did a seminar on study! More of that to come), and generally just thinking about things, I've seen again the importance of growing in knowledge of who God is. As soon as I take my eyes off Him, I start to drift, to lose heart, to get bogged down in the things of this world. My strength comes from Christ, so I need to always have my eyes fixed on Him. He is, and always must be the supreme object of my affection, so I need to spend time daily meeting with Him, learning of Him from His Word, and speaking about Him with others. When He is central in my life, everything else will be rubbish in comparison, and I'll be willing to serve Him wholeheartedly, whatever the cost.

The other thing I've become more and more convinced of is the need for true fellowship in the church. We are a family, and as part of the same body we need to be concerned for each others' spiritual wellbeing. We need to be asking each other big questions about how we're doing, where we are, what our relationship with God is like. If we're not holding each other accountable it's too easy for individuals to slip away without anyone knowing. It's so easy to talk about nothing with people, but if I really love my brothers and sisters, I'll point them to Christ, and they'll do the same for me.

John 13v34"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."