Thursday, 15 October 2009

Blog Action Day! Climate Change!

Well, I've not been so good at posting recently. However, I came on to post on my other blog and discovered it was Blog Action Day. So I decided to get involved, and then I decided the topic would fit better on here. I need to stick the link up or it won't recognise me (or something like that), so here you go . Right, that's out the way.

Climate Change. This might not seem like the right place to talk about it--what does God have to do with climate change? Well, quite a lot actually. It's all down to the concept of stewardship. Can you tell we looked at this in RE when I was in Year 11? I know the fancy terms! Anyway, stewardship is basically the concept that God gave us the world, so we shouldn't screw it up. If someone gave you their favourite CD, no that's illegal, if someone gave you their favourite top to borrow, and you went out and ripped it, you wouldn't be being a very good steward of their property, would you? You should take care of it, because it isn't yours. Yeh? Well, it's like that with the earth. It was given to us, yes, but it's not really really ours.

There's another reason it's important to look after our planet. We have a duty to look after other people--Jesus said 'love your neighbour as you love yourself'. Often we in the 'developed' world don't see the results of what we do to the planet. The acid rain falls elsewhere, other countries are affected by the increasing severity of storms, other countries are nearer the rising seas than us. It's easy, in those cases, not to care. We're only fussed about rubbish when it's on our own doorstep--it makes it impossible to ignore. But what about our calling to care for others? How is letting them suffer from our mistakes, our idiocies, our greed, caring for them?

I don't know if you think Climate Change as espoused by scientists is real or not, but I'll be honest. I don't see how what we're doing to the planet can have absolutely no effect. It's gonna be harming someone, somewhere. The trouble is, what can we do?

Small things can make a difference, they add up. That's the starting point. If everybody used just the amount of water they needed to make the drink when they boiled the kettle, there'd be enough energy saved to power a street. Turn lights off, turn appliances off (at the plug if they only have a standby button), close the curtains when it goes dark to prevent heat loss, try and use energy saving lightbulbs (if you're in England, a lot of councils give them away on special days, South Ribble was the other week), that sort of thing. I know it sounds small, and it doesn't seem like you're doing much, but it's a definite start.

Culturally, it's very difficult for us to do anything about it. In order to make a huge difference, we need a total shift in attitudes and values. We need to realise that individualism is not going to help anybody, including yourself. We need to stop consuming constantly and learn how to produce efficiently and sustainably.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


This is a pretty big topic, but I'm gonna stick up a bit of a start to it here.

Grace is the big thing in the New Testament. You can't really read it without getting a glimpse of it. Jesus came to help the hated in society. He brought a message of new beginnings, of starting afresh. He was quite happy to spend time with the hated in society; prostitutes, tax collectors, the sick, the poor, the oppressed. He offered a complete wiping clean of sins. It was a bit radical. I mean, let's face it, if someone's wronged you you don't want some guy coming up and saying 'your sins are forgiven'. It upset quite a few of the Pharisees as well (the religious authorities of the time). They said that only God has the power to forgive sins. If you believe Jesus to be the son of God, that's not really a problem. But our very nature is conditioned not to expect free gifts, to look for obligations and strings.

A lot of churches do attach strings. They don't want certain types of people to come. My parents were asked to leave a church because they weren't the right sort of people (in a curious reversal of what you'd expect, it was because they were too posh). They expect a certain dress code. I went to a different church to normal the other week, along with most of my youth group, and we realised when we got there that everyone was dressed up nice and posh... Thankfully they were really cheerful folks and didn't seem to mind that we were all pretty casual. But you get the picture. Many people are put of churches because they think they have to conform to a certain mould, have to be 'fixed' before they go in. But Jesus said that it's the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy. You're not supposed to be sorted before you get to church.

Now, grace (after that rather lengthy introduction...). At the heart of grace is being given something you don't deserve. That something is eternal life. You don't deserve it. Nothing you can ever do would let you earn the right to eternal life. God realised this. That's why he sent Jesus--so we don't have to earn it. We can just receive it. You can't repay him. You can only say thank-you, and mean it.

Grace is what wipes your slate clean. But it's a once and for all wiping clean. Buster, our pastor, likes to ask people "are you a sinner?". The answer, by the way, is no (assuming you've accepted Jesus). Your slate has been wiped clean, and when you sin again, it just gets wiped straight away. It doesn't even stick for a second. When God looks at you, he doesn't see all the mess, all the broken promises, all the tries that ended in failure. He sees perfection, because he sees Jesus.

The response to grace is to say thank-you and accept it. To pick it up and run with it. It's like this: imagine someone gives you a mega nice dress/suit. You wear it, but when you wear it, you're careful with it, aren't you? You don't go out and start mucking it up. It's like that with grace. Even if you know it isn't going to stick to you, is it right to take advantage of that? Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and do whatever you want. Think about it. If you love God with all your heart, soul and mind, are you gonna start doing stuff that would upset him, stuff that breaks his heart? If you have a really close friend, you respect them, you don't trample all over their emotions, you don't ignore their opinions, you don't lie to them, hit them (at least, I would hope you don't intentionally do so...). That's why that statement holds true. It isn't a license to do whatever you want, it's a license to enjoy life with God's guidance.

Your parents have probably given you rules/gave you rules when you were younger. Don't go up there without me, don't climb that tree. These rules are not meant to stop yourself enjoying yourself, they're meant to keep you safe. I'm straying slightly away from the main theme, but never mind, I think this is still relevant.

Jeremiah prophesied: "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." Basically: you don't need a written law any more. God's put it in you, instead of on paper. Instead of writing it on tablets of stone, it's inscribed into our very being, because Christ died for us and offers to come into us and brings that with him.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." (Romans 8). What this means is that: instead of being under the Old Covenant, which brought death because we could never live up to it, God decided to do both sides of the deal, keeping the commands himself and then letting us reap the benefits. So don't let anyone (including yourself) condemn you for what you have done and have not done. Sin is no longer your master, you belong to Christ instead. And because of that, you have to recognise that nothing you can do will make God love you any less, and no amount of piety will make God love you any more. He can't possibly love you any more than he already does. Don't go feeling 'oh woe is me, I've sinned again'. Just move on. Let God direct your steps and help you not to fall into the trap again.

And remember this: God made you special and he loves you very very very much. More than you could possibly comprehend.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Another Picture

Okay, here's another picture for you, in words. I can't remember how exactly this came to be, but it just sorta turned up.

Anyway, there's a huge mountain, and you've gotta climb up it. So you set off and then you notice there's a massive obstacle in the way. You know you're supposed to go up on this path, and not stray off to either side, but it doesn't look like you'll be able to get through. The climb is getting pretty tough too, and it feels like you can't go much further--you're running out of puff. However, you keep going, and as you get closer to the obstacle, you realise that there's actually a path through it, like a little doorway. You have a way through to the other side.

And remember, God made you special and he loves you very much.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Love is not self-seeking

It's easy to 'love' someone you know you'll get something back out of. For example, you might invite more people to your party than your actual close friends, because you know you'll get more presents that way. You only have to spend a few minutes watching TV to notice that it's almost always the rich and glamorous who have flocks of 'friends' around them, that people flock towards the famous. Perhaps our obsession with celebrities is in part down to the idea that if you can get close to them, some of their fame will rub off on you. I'm guilty of trying it too--my brother went to pre-school with the son of the guy who makes VeggieTales :D. What actual relevance that has to anything...

But on an even more basic level, it can mean loving the people who are lovable, being friends to people who you're pretty sure will reciprocate. It's trying to make the input-->output formula work for relationships too, by expecting back what you put in. It's an easy enough trap to fall into. But the Bible says to 'love your enemies, pray for those who hurt you' (Matthew 5 33-34). Now, what are you going to get back from your enemies if you love them? Not a whole lot in the way of nice stuff--probably. Not at first anyway. But prayer does have the power to change things. It's like giving permission to the fairies in Artemis Fowl (now you're going to say you haven't read this brilliant book)--if they don't have the permission, they can't enter a human's dwelling. In the same way, God gave us power over the earth. He can't step in unless we ask him to.

I think the best way to look at this one is to examine your motives within friendships, to wonder why exactly you're inviting that person to your party.

Just remember:

God made you special and he loves you very much.

In His Likeness

Now, maybe you think it's a wee bit annoying to be told you look like your parents. Believe me, you probably don't have it as bad as me--I've been mistaken for my mum several times by people who know us both pretty well. At a distance usually, but it's still a little annoying when people call you 'Deb!', and it's like 'no, I'm Joanna'. But there's one parent I think everyone would like to look like.

He's the toughest guy in the universe, the smartest, the funniest (he played the world's first joke, let's not forget), the most awesome, so beautiful it hurts to look upon his face... And that guy made you in His likeness. "Come, let us make man in our likeness" (Genesis 1 v 26). Now, just think about that for a moment. A couple of weeks ago I wrote about our heavenly daddy. If you've got his DNA in you, doesn't that mean you ought to reflect his characteristics?

I just want to encourage you to remember that not only is the biggest guy in the universe on your side as the perfect dad to point to and go 'my dad's bigger than yours' whenever troubles come along, but also that you are like him. And as you grow in maturity within your faith, or come to know him personally, you'll grow into being more like him. How awesome is that? You start to become more like the most powerful King in the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


We've been talking about this a bit in church recently, and I thought I'd share about it with you.

Fear is an instinctive thing, and it can be pretty good. It's the start of the fight or flight response, a recognition that something is potentially dangerous. For example, if a dinosaur came charging into my bedroom right now, I'd be pretty fearful, which is a good start. If you didn't fear things, you'd probably hurt/kill yourself pretty quickly.

However, when fear goes on too long, it causes problems. When you're afraid, certain chemicals are released and they aren't meant to be in your body all the time. So when you're fearful all the time, you can't sleep, your blood gets diverted away from your stomach and you find it hard to digest food, which causes even more problems, etc etc.

At the bottom of a page in my Bible, I've written 'what you fear, you give power to'. You've probably heard the saying 'fear the Lord'. What that basically means is you give power to God. People feared kings because they had power. People fear things that are stronger than them, and in that way give respect to them. (I'm not saying this is the best way to control people though...). Now, the problem comes when you start fearing things you shouldn't. Exams for example. Or circumstances you cannot control, like the state of the economy. If I fear exams, I'm giving the power and respect to them that they don't deserve, the power and respect that should go to God.

Now, it's all well and good saying you shouldn't be afraid, but it isn't so easy to put it into practice. I can understand that. When I was doing my GCSEs last year, my mum was ill and I was scared about what was gonna happen to her, and what was gonna happen with my exams. Someone gave me a verse on a little bit of card. 'Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God' (Philippians 4 v 6). Every time I started to feel worried about my exams or anything, I got that out my pocket and read it, to the point that it's now firmly embedded in my memory and now when I realise I'm scared of something I shouldn't be scared of, I start repeating it to myself.

Ultimately, the best way to combat fear that I've found is to remember who you are in God.

'So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn't gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen. Who would dare even to point a finger?' (Romans 8 v 31-32ish The Message). Basically what that says is there's no reason to be afraid. The biggest dad in the universe is stood right behind you to back you up. And if you've got the biggest dad of all the kids in the playground, well, doesn't that make you feel rather safe? It certainly reminds me of why I don't need to be afraid of anything the world can throw at me, because 'Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world' (sorry, I can't remember where in the Bible that's from...).

Anyway, God made you special, and he loves you very much.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Love is not rude

Love is not rude. Again, this looks like an obvious one. Of course you aren't rude to people you love. Are you? Um... Maybe a bit. Well, a lot. It's like with the kindness thing. It's pretty easy to be nasty to people you like, to be rude, to cut them off mid-sentence, to ignore them, because you feel like you can get away with it. But it's easy to go a bit too far, to say something you'll later find yourself regretting which leads to an argument.

Not listening is often seen as being rude. And that can lead to problems. As an example: apparently, today I was told we were going to Camelot theme park. I don't remember ever hearing that. So, when the time came and my mum was like 'have you played your clarinet, we're going soon', I was understandably confused. She was annoyed I hadn't listened and paid attention. Fair enough. I can see her point. Not listening is one of the things people find most annoying. In order to assure people we're listening, there's this thing called back-channel--we go 'uh-huh', 'yeh', etc. If you ever stop giving back channel, it really disturbs people because it feels like you're not listening, leads to uncomfortable silence, can be quite embarassing. How do I know? We did a little experiment in English Language. Quite amusing for those of us in on the joke, frustrating for people not in on the joke. I'm rambling a bit, sorry. At any rate, people get offended if they feel like you're being rude and ignoring them. It makes them feel belittled, it's part of the whole respect thing I was talking about earlier. If you love someone, you respect them, you give them your attention. Being rude doesn't do that.

What it all comes down to, is that all people deserve respect and consideration. They were 'made in the image of God' (Genesis). Now, don't you think that deserves a bit of respect? After all, in dictatorships, in celebrity culture, the image of the leader or celebratory is displayed prominently, and people are expected to give it respect. How much more respect do things reflecting God deserve?

Remember: God made you special and he loves you very much.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


I was looking through some notes I'd made ages ago recently, and I found a picture that I want to share with you. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure how to transfer the picture to here, so you'll have to put up with it in words.

It started off with a spout, open at the top, like a bit of drainpipe. That was us (well, me at this particular point, but it'll apply to other Christians). It had little holes in, all the way up the side. It started to rain, and the rain was blessings.

These blessings fell down into the pipe and started to collect there, but when they reached the little holes, they started spurting out, and hitting all these other little open topped pipes, which were other people. The more the me-pipe got filled, the more spurted out as it got higher and higher up the tube, the more fierce the spurts of water were, and the more got poured into the me-pipe.

It started to rain harder, and the water didn't fit in the pipe any more, despite all the holes spurting it out the side, and it gushed over and out into other people-pipes.

And then the rain cloud just went whoosh, and water poured everywhere, into all the people-pipes. Everyone was getting filled up, bursting out with water, and the water was spreading everywhere.

See, when God starts blessing you, it spills over onto others too. And when God starts blessing you, he doesn't just give you a little bit. He keeps on pouring it in, till you're full to overflowing and the overflow is going to other people.

I hope that makes sense. I'll try and get the pictures up (or at least, neatened versions of the pictures) at some point.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Love is not proud

Okay, I'm gonna start off with a dictionary definition of proud: having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority.

Don't you just hate it when you come across someone who thinks they're so much better than you? It's so infuriating. You just want to wipe that smile of smug satisfaction off their grinning gob and let them eat a bit of humble pie. Well, I guess that makes it kinda clear why Paul didn't want people to connect love with proud. It causes anger and resentment. But even when it doesn't, it still has pretty bad repercusions. I'm sure you've heard the saying 'pride comes before a fall'. The reason is, pride puffs you up so much that you can't see where you're putting your feet, and then wham, you're on your face. So be careful about priding yourself in your relationships too much. That's a bit of a sneaky trap. You start to think 'hey, I'm doing pretty good at this whole loving thing', get a bit proud, and that's when you start seeing people as not being people.

Maybe you think I'm overdramatising a bit. Well, let's look at it this way. A little bit of pride in a relationship, you might think is a good thing. It means you want to keep it going. But this links in with the whole boasting thing. If you start looking at your relationship in terms of what it provides, that can never lead to good stuff. A relationship is about what you can give, not what you can get. And that is the very essence of love.

Remember: God made you special, and he loves you very much.


This is one of the most basic rules of life. What you input influences what the output is. If you input certain instructions into a computer game, the output is that the game does what you've told it to. If you input values into a process, it follows the process and spits out the relevant value. If you plant a certain type of seed, that's what grows.

It's easy to forget that this rule, which applies to just about any other area of life, also applies to us as people. If you input junk, you output junk. It says in the Bible (if I can remember where I put it down last...) "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things" (Phillipians 4v8). This is basically saying that you ought to think about nice stuff. And if you think about nice stuff, then you'll act nice. I know that oversimplifies a bit, but the cause effect relationship is there. It certainly works the opposite way around. A relationship has been found between listening to music with sexual lyrics and having sex at a younger age.

It's not so easy to think about nice things--true, noble, excellent, admirable things--in today's world. But I doubt it was much easier in the world of the Bible. Okay, they didn't have twenty-four seven tv, internet and music. But they did have a lot more contact between individuals, and there was slavery and stuff which was pretty blatant. It can sometimes seem that the only way to avoid listening to rubbish is to stick your head in the sand and ignore the world. But Jesus didn't do that. He wasn't afraid to go out there into the big bad world, the real world, talking to real people who society hated. However, if you look around, there is plenty to see that's true and honourable. Lukas posted about the Isaiah Project, there's plenty of stuff like that. If you make the effort, there are plenty of books and films out there which aren't encouraging people to leap into bed with each other. I'm not saying it's easy. But it's worth doing it. What sort of seeds are you sowing into your life? And what sort of crop do you want to reap?