From Small Things

26 08 2013

Better late than never! After a busy weekend, have finally got round to typing up my Sunday sermon notes.

My notes normally start with lines that have struck me from the songs we’ve sung, then go through what we’ve heard in the sermon, and then anything from the final song, so I thought I may as well keep that up here. There’s bits missing from the sermons to, I just write down the bits that strike me. All it really is is a collection of thoughts I’m sharing just incase they help others!

“I’m so unworthy, but still You love me”

“All my sins are now forgiven
and my life is hidden
saved through Jesus Christ”

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness
I dare not trust my feeble frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name”

Matthew 13 vv 31-33The parables of the mustard seed and the yeast

In those days, the word “Kingdom” was associated more with power and glamour, the rule of the Roman Empire. People hearing the stories about farming would maybe find that hard to understand.

The parable of the mustard seed

A mustard seed is about a millimetre in diameter, barely visible. It’s hard to believe that that speck can grow to a bush 6-12ft high – so large that birds shelter under it’s branches!

Sometimes we can see things as mediocre mustard seeds, but this parable teaches us to view things through the eyes of faith.

Jesus was the ultimate mustard seed. The son of a carpenter, He died on a wooden cross, saved for the worst of criminals, He was buried in a borrowed tomb, not at all impressive.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” – 1 Corinthians 1 v 25

What began in Israel breaks out into the whole world, the Kingdom is growing every time someone decides to make Jesus Lord and King of their life. He died and rose again to bring us into His Kingdom.

We’re heading towards Revelation 7 vv 9-10: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” A multitude – all tribe and tongue – not dissimilar to an afternoon in Westfields shopping centre?! But praising God!

The parable of the yeast

This is how the Kingdom grows.

The effects of yeast are massively disproportionate to it’s size. The effect Christian individuals and groups can have when they infiltrate society.

The yeast itself is hidden inside. The Holy Spirit is transforming us from within.

Rodney Start, in “The triumph of Christianity” argues that Christianity grew because of the way it cared for people, both within and outside of the church. He even cites pagan sources that complain about the good reputation Christians were gaining!

One of the greatest periods of social improvement cam through Christians in the late 18th and the whole 19th century. The abolition of the slave trade, improvements in education and also workers rights, for which the first fighters were Methodist preachers!

We need to be communities of yeast working quietly and effectively in our towns and cities. We should not underestimate our influence as Christians.

A little years and a small seed can go a long, long way. We just need to leave the results to God.

God works with the small, weak, unimpressive things. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

“We will not be crushed, Your hope will strengthen us”

“Through our lives, by Your Grace, may we overflow with Jesus”

Stats on Poverty: There are many reasons why I love this video

23 08 2013

If you haven’t checked out TED before, it’s a website full of short talks about all sorts of topics by all sorts of people, from a blind pianist, to mental health, there’s some great stuff on there – check it out!
Here’s one that I discovered today and is completely fantastic:

Reasons I love it

  • It is choc-a-block full of data and statistics with proper deep meaning
  • There are colourful graphs that move and show 4 dimensions of data in one go
  • The speaker commentates on the moving graph as if it’s a sport
  • There is a mass of information about the changes in world poverty over the last 40 years in all sorts of aspects
  • The man’s passion to make data more accessible to all by providing a link to make it more visual and less dull
  • The guy reminds me so much of one of my maths lecturers from uni with his accent and enthusiasm!

Definitely worth a watch!

Friday Five Favourite: Romsey Baptist Classics

23 08 2013

Growing up at Romsey Baptist Church we sung a range of songs, old hymns, 80s classics, modern stuff, and several things in between!

Years and years ago I remember a song being introduced that the worship leader said it’s one of those he’d never heard sung anywhere else but here, and I’ve noticed as I’ve now moved on from there, there’s a few songs that go on that list! So I thought I’d share them, maybe some you’ve heard before, some you haven’t, but I think that the reason they’ve stuck with me is I think they’re great, and therefore worth sharing the joy!

Maybe you’ll find something new to try out on Sunday! 🙂

Oh Lord, you are my Rock and my Redeemer
I have searched high and low for a video of this and have failed. The words are great, but the tune is so good too, I’m sad not to be able to share it!
The closest I have is just the words.

O Lord, You are my Rock and my Redeemer;
My song, You are the Strength of my life.
O Lord, You are the Shepherd of Your people;
You keep us always walking in Your light.

You brought me out of darkness,
You took away my shame;
You broke the chains that bound me,
I praise Your name!

You carry all my sorrows,
You carry all my pain;
You fill me with Your Spirit,
I praise Your name!

We recognise Your splendour,
Your greatness we proclaim;
The Alpha and Omega,
We praise Your name!

I’m gonna trust in God (How great is the love of God) – Steve Earl

The people who walk in darkness (He will be called wonderful) – David Lyle Morris

A little seasonal!

Say the Word (I simply live for You) – Hillsong

Without Jesus where were we – Romsey Baptist Young People (pretty sure no one else knows this one!)

Without Jesus where were we
Lost, rejected and all alone
He sought us out in order to save us
So we can know the Holy One

You died for me
You set me free
Now Jesus You are changing me

With my Saviour friend forever
Master, Healer, Father, King
He shows the way and gives me a purpose
In living for the Holy One

Putting your name in

18 08 2013

I don’t know if you’ve ever put your name in John 3v16, it’s something we did once or twice on youth weekends away.

It starts like this

For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believed in Him would not die, but have eternal life.

So then you insert your name instead

For God so loved Ineke that he gave His one and only Son, so that if Ineke believed in Him would not die, but have eternal life.

Try it out!

For God so loved ______________ that he gave His one and only Son, so if ______________ believed in Him would not die, but have eternal life.

This morning during communion a similar thought struck me that the same thing works in.

Even if you were the only person on the planet, God would have still given up His only Son to die for you!

I tried putting in my name

Even if Ineke was the only person on the planet, God would have still given up His only Son to die for Ineke!

Try it for yourself!

Even if ______________ was the only person on the planet, God would have still given up His only Son to die for ______________!

I reckon this’d work with a whole host of verses! Any suggestions?

How to spell toasty/ie

17 08 2013

Why is it spelt toasty warm,  but then cheese toastie?

The Parable of the Net

11 08 2013

Over the summer we’re doing a series on parables at church, and this morning’s was The Parable of the Net. I’d never even heard of it before! Neither had the girl next to me, neither has my housemate! Have you?!

Matthew 13:47-52
47 ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 ‘Have you understood all these things?’ Jesus asked.
‘Yes,’ they replied.
52 He said to them, ‘Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.’

So as mentioned last week, I thought I’d share some of my notes from the sermon incase they’re helpful to anyone out there on the internet!

In this parable, the net represents the gospel. The gospel is to be put out to all mankind, there is no discrimination.
God so loved the world. – The gospel is for all!
In Matthew 4vv18-20, Simon Peter and Andrew are called to be fishers of men.
All we have counts for nothing really, the one thing we really need is eternal life.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Our responsibility is to share the gospel with all we come into contact with. It’s never too late. For example the criminal on the cross in Luke 23, Jesus didn’t discriminate there!
We mustn’t write people off because they’re drunkards, criminals, or even because we think that they wouldn’t want to know.
On the last day, the net will be sifted with all mankind, but it won’t be us who decide. The criteria has been set by the fisherman, that is, God. The criteria is not who is good or who is bad. It is not who is in or out of church. All have fallen short of God’s glory. The criteria is who has accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Who is saved, who is not.
We have a responsibility, let’s take it seriously.

Friday five favourite: Traditional hymns

9 08 2013

There’s a reason these hymns have lasted a long time, we live in a time when there’s new worship music out all the time, but move on even 5 years, let alone decades, and which ones are you still singing? There’s a whole tonne of modern hymns coming out which are also great, but these below truly have stood the test of time.

I’ve tried wherever possible to find congregational versions rather than performances, because worship is not about a performance, it’s every person individually, coming together to make the most beautiful and powerful sound! (And that doesn’t even have to be tuneful!)

How great Thou art

Favourite bit:

And when I think that God his son not sparing,
Sent him to die – I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Thine be the glory

Favourite bit:

For our Lord now liveth
Death has lost it’s sting!

Thine is the glory, risen conqu’ring Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, Thou o’er death hast won.

And can it be

Favourite bit:

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing Grace

I couldn’t find a traditional version of this on YouTube that I liked, and I know my Dad really hates it when people take old hymns and “think they can do better by adding a bit in”, but I do like this, so excuse the modernisation for this post!
Favourite bit:

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

To God be the glory

Same with this one, although actually I’ve always prefered the modernised version here. The words are still there, the same meaning and depth to them, but a slightly less “twee” tune!
Favourite bit:

The vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

A couple of others that just missed the cut:

What are your favourite traditional hymns?

Anxiety – One year on

8 08 2013

This time last year I wasn’t very well.

Reading through my personal diary entries from this time last year and seeing what a state I was in, it kind of surprises me. I didn’t really realise how bad it was until I started missing work. So I can’t help but feel so utterly blessed and grateful for how much things have improved and are better now!

Thanks so much to my wonderful friends and family for their prayers and support and for helping me through this. I may be on [very mild] medication, and I may not be 100% 24/7, but I am so much better than this time last year that it’s barely comparible! Last year it was dehabilitating, this year, barely noticeable!

Praise God! 🙂

This last year I have learnt:

  • Medication is not a bad thing. – Yes there is a massive stigma that comes with anti-depressants, and it really put me off taking them, but if I could have known then the change being on the smallest dose you can take would make, I would never have hesitated!
  • It’s good to talk. – A year ago barely anyone in my day to day life knew I suffered with anxiety, but when I was going through a bad attack, it was so much easier once I knew I could text people to ask for prayer without having to explain, or for the people I was with to know and so not to make a fuss and knowing how to handle me, again without me having to explain in any detail what was going on.
  • Loads of people suffer from mental health issues. – I really thought that all that “1 in 4 people are affected by mental health problems” stuff was over exaggerated, but as I talked with more people, the amount of them who said they either are or were at some point battling a mental health issue, on medication etc, really did surprise me! This is possibly what encouraged me most. Particularly one friend who I massively respect and would never had guessed in a million years was battling anything like this, turns out is – it doesn’t make you a bad person at all!!

I’m sure there’s more lessons to come out of this for me, but thought I’d share what I have so far.

Mental health is getting so much more press lately too. BBC have been doing a season on mental health. And more and more noteable people e.g. Stephen Fry, seem to be speaking out as charities like Mind and Time to Change work to increase awareness and decrease discrimination in this country. There’s really some great stuff going on and some fantastic progress being made.

Let’s not be afraid to talk about it!

James: Faith in Action

4 08 2013

In church I’m one of those people that sits there scribbling all through the sermon. No I’m not doodling, and I’m not trying to look uber holy, I’m just trying to listen properly and stop myself from daydreaming, and I find note taking is the best way to do this for me. Thing is, once the notes are written, I never seem to look at them again. I wondered about blogging them week by week, so that as I type them up on a Sunday afternoon it gives me a chance to digest what I heard a little further, and also means I get to share the great stuff I hear with whoever’s listening out there!

Over the summer we’re doing parables and in the autumn are starting a new series on the “one another commands” which sounds really cool. But recently we’ve finished a great series in James, which you can listen to online here. Each week has been full of great stuff, so as I couldn’t get to church today due to the big cycle rides going on in London & Surrey, I thought maybe I’d go through the notes I can find (I missed a week or two when visiting my parents church, and not every bit of paper made it as far as the notebook!) and share what I learnt with you…

James 1 vv 1-12Walking wisely through trials
Joy = “Unnatural reaction of deep and steady thankful trust in God”
Joy is not about how we should feel, but how we should think.
Trials build spiritual muscle
Perseverance = “Successfully carrying a heavy load for a long time”
Maturity = “Perfection and wholeness of Christian character”
Trials provoke us to pray, we long for God’s wisdom
Our faith must be centred on God alone
The rich can be too independent of God, the poor can think they’re deserted.
We need to keep our eyes on eternity.
None of this is possible in our own strength
A “little while’s” suffering for an eternity in heaven
God knocks off our rough edges so we can glorify Jesus and become more like Him, ready for heaven.

James 1 vv 13-18Walking wisely when facing temptation
We’re not above temptation, how we handle it is key.
We’re all born not loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength
Sin = “Having ourselves at the centre”
We all have doubts, but it’s about how we handle them
We have to come back to who God is
When the wheels come off and in the good times, who is God? Try listing things!
Every time Jesus was tempted by the devil He responded with quotes from Scripture
We need to know the book, there is not shortcut.
Prayer partners can help with accountability for habitual sin.
Are we fighting sin and temptation?
Fight the good fight!

James 1 vv 19-27Walking wisely by listening to God’s Word and obeying God’s Word
James is an application of Jesus’ wisdom teaching
Don’t just listen, live it! Slow to anger, quick to listen, slow to speak.
We are for change and transformation, not to stay as we are
We should engage with people who anger us in case of misunderstanding
We can have righteous anger at injustice, but not self-righteous anger.
We read the word and then forget it, why take the time to look if we’re not going to do anything about it?
It’s not about knowledge. Without application it’s just empty
Maturity is hearing and doing the word, chew, meditate, pray.
What comes out of our mouths reflects the state of our hearts
Ephesians 4v29 means we’ve got some work to do!
True religion works for social justice
Why are we angry when Jesus took it on Himself on the cross?

James 2 vv 14-26Faith in action
Actions speak louder than words. Our God of action can move mountains!
We have a responsibility as people of compassion
Non believers judge Christians on their actions, and therefore judge God
Put your money where your mouth is, or more specifically, put your action where your faith is.
We need to feed our faith on the makers handbook
We can’t earn God’s favour, it’s Grace
“Saved to serve” is good, but it needs to go beyond the four walls
“Go and make disciples”, not “go and make church members”
Deeds aren’t to get attention for ourselves, but to give God glory
We want to be an Acts 2 church

James 3 vv 1-12Speaking wisely
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
Speech is powerful, for example Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” quote
In the times of no printing press, verbal was the main form of communication.
1: vv 1-2 Importance of words
If your life didn’t match your words you wouldn’t be a respected synagogue teacher
Words have no impact or authority if they don’t match your actions
Our speech will only honour God if we’re rooted in God
Perfect = “Mature or complete in Christ”
Our lips and words reflect the inside of our hearts
Words are so important, see Matthew 12 vv 36-37
2: vv 3-8 Power of words
Aggressive words are becoming popular entertainment these days, eg Jeremy Kyle or the Apprentice
vv 3-4 There are a lot of little things that control massive things, eg small rudder on a massive ship
vv 5-6 One careless remark can completely destroy a reputation or injure someone
vv 7-8 explained by Matthew 15 vv 18-19
3: vv 9-12 Need for consistency in our words
v 9 cursing another human being curses God as they are in His image
Our behaviour on a Monday must match our praises on a Sunday
vv 11-12 It’s absurd to expect fresh water from a salt spring, why do we put up with it? It’s hypocritical, there must be consistency and integrity
We’re called to this but can’t do it in our own strength
We need spiritual heart surgery, new hearts!
Jeremiah 31 v 33, The law had been on stone tablets, now it’s on our hearts. I.e. We’ll be given new hearts that want to obey God
Hebrews 9 v 15, all the pride, gossip, slander, bitterness and anger that comes out of our mouths was nailed to the cross with Jesus, He paid the price for it all
He died and rose again so that we could have spiritual heart surgery. Hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone
Matthew 12 vv 33-35 and Ephesians 4 vv 29-32 both say we need to speak good words, to encourage one another, to show good hearts with good words. To be people of integrity.

James 5 vv 13-18Powerful and effective prayer
v 13 in trouble, the first responsibility is on us to pray, for strength, comfort, patience
Facing trials in joy doesn’t mean as in “whoopee!” but as in a deep security in Christ
v 14 commentators believe this refers to a bedbound person, someone who can’t get to church – the elders should wait to be called
Consecrating =”setting apart for God’s use”
The power is not in the oil, but in the prayer of faith, and in the Holy Spirit
v 15 This can sound like a promise that sufficient faith always brings healing, but nevertheless, faith is important to the healing process
Paul experienced someone not being healed, 2 Timothy 4 v 10
Someone can be given a gift of faith for healing, a feeling of such certainty that it’ll happen.
v 15b says “if he has sinned”, there may be a sin cause, but not necessarily… John 9 vv 1-3
There was a guitarist at a church who had hand pain and couldn’t play but was healed after confession. Often this is not the case, but it can be worth exploring.
A word of knowledge may be given to the person praying, but this needs dealing with with great sensitivity. But don’t go hunting for sin in sickness, that is not pastoral.
v 16 there are different levels of confessing sin, private (between you and God), and sin that needs confessing to one another when we hurt one another
Prayer is the means through which God’s power works
Not just the elders should pray, the whole community should prayer for one another – prayer chain, prayer in services, prayer meetings, communion, etc
We’re not perfect, we’re righteous through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we’re clothed in this righteousness
We probably only shower once in the day, but we need to wash our hands throughout the day. Similarly we need to confess our sins every day to God and to keep short accounts with people.
Forgive as Christ has forgiven you.

James 5 vv 19-20Jesus seeks the wanderers
The church is not just a common interest group, we’re united in the Holy Spirit. We’re bonded together in the family of God. We have responsibility to each other, mutual accountability.
In our society, saying that no one goes to the Father except through Christ is not a PC thing to do.
For us to go after someone who has drifted is to love them
We are all to exercise this ministry
Galatians 6 v 1 also talks about this
When you barbeque, you need to keep all the coals in the heat. As Christians we need to be with other Christians. Those who’ve left the church are coals getting cold, we need to bring them back.
It’s scary how many leave the church and aren’t even contacted
Sin is a tricky word. All it means is “loving created things before the creator”.
Not one of us loves God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength
It’s good to pray for prodigals, but it’s not sufficient, we must do something practical.
The message says “don’t write them off, go after them!”
The good shepherd left his 99 and went after the 1 stray.
We won’t succeed every time, but it’s not just the pastoral teams job, it’s all of our responsibility!
“Look out for one another” isn’t quite one of the one another commands in the bible, but it’s worth doing.
The Father’s heart is not “well we’ve got 99 others, hey ho!”, He wants them back
We need to put this into practice.

Hmm, that was longer than I intended, even with weeks missing! But some great content I didn’t want ot miss bits out! Maybe this would suit a week by week basis.
Anyway, if you made it as far as the end I hope you found this useful, encouraging and challenging!

Is this the sort of blog content you’d like on here in future?

How I discovered Compassion

1 08 2013

A year or so ago, Compassion UK launched a campaign where they encouraged their sponsors to share their Compassion story, how they heard about them, how they came to be a sponsor. I started writing mine but never finished it, then this evening as I was scrolling through unfinished blog posts I found it again and finished it off, so here goes!

I graduated four years ago in 2009, a year or so into the recession, and was told I had something like a 1 in 48 chance of getting a job. I decided I’d really like to work for a Christian charity, but struck a deal with myself as I knew that was a pretty narrow net, that if I didn’t get anywhere after a while I’d widen to charities in general, and then start to look at all companies if there was no success there. All I knew was that after years of homework and coursework, I quite wanted to get evenings and weekends back, and with my degree most likely being a lower second, graduate schemes and further education just weren’t the way forward for me.

I started off applying for an unpaid web internship with BMS which looked great, but I didn’t get an interview for it. Then I applied for a job I saw on a general charity job website with one I’d never heard of called Compassion as someone in Supporter Relations, which I also applied for and also failed to get an interview for. But as I was discovering new charities all the time in my job search, they got added to the list of vacancy websites to check regularly. After my exams I applied for another job with them, this time for a 6 month maternity cover post in the IT team. This time I got an interview, but in the middle of it couldn’t even remember half of the question I’d just been asked and had to bite back the tears, I didn’t think it was my best attempt! As I left it I rang my parents to say how it went, my sentence was: “Well it went ok, but I’ll judge them if they employ me!”. It was the first job application I’d managed to get an interview for, and slightly surprisingly I was offered the role!

I started in the autumn, and it became clear so quickly why God had this role in mind for me rather than the one I didn’t get an interview for. Now every day I’m immersed in data and queries, and I love it! I don’t think I’d ever have been that useful on the phones!

Within a couple of days of starting on the job I’d found out more about this unknown-to-me charity, who they were, what they were about, and I was totally won over! I sponsored my first child – a little boy called Hamad in Tanzania. I now have the privilege of watching him and the others that I write to growing up, writing to me and telling me all the things they’re learning in the project, and one of them even told me she got baptised last year! We get to hear such amazing stories and testimonies in the office, of things that happen in the field for the children of course, but even at events we attend in this country!

This really is life saving work!! I’m totally in love with these kids, and with the work of Compassion. Through the programme they receive physical, spiritual, social and economic help, this isn’t just child sponsorship, this is child development, and according to recent independent research, it works!!

If you’d like to join me and sponsor a child and save a life, please do check out the website!!