The meaning of Christmas

19 12 2013

A lot of TV programmes are currently sharing their opinions about what Christmas is really about (I guess what they mean is: as opposed to consumerism).

“Christmas is all about thoughtfulness” – Great British Sewing Bee
“For me, Christmas is all about the kitchen” – Great British Bake Off
“It’s about the smell of the turkey cooking and mulled wine” – Great British Bake Off

They’ll also say things like family or giving.

Or even love.

They all seem to have forgotten the main point:

Christmas is about JESUS!!!!!!!!

Friday Five Favourites: Christmas Adverts 2013

13 12 2013

Quite a few feel-good, inspirational Christmas adverts around this year 🙂 Wasn’t a fan of the John Lewis one this year – I’m less against it now, but it just doesn’t explain it’s own plot very well, and definitely not worth £7million

Coca Cola – quite a different message to normal!

Boots – it’s been a bit overplayed this year, but I do like it

Sainsburys – love this one, particularly spreadsheet man, and the family at the very end 🙂

Carphone Warehouse – bit of a more light hearted one!

Marks & Spencer – everyone loves a spoof of childrens’ stories 🙂

Why are you here?

10 12 2013

We had a guest speaker this Sunday, he spoke on 1 Corinthians 12vv14-31 and asked us, “why are you here?”

There’s many reasons we could be a church

  • We’re on a rota
  • Force of habit
  • Routine
  • Social time
  • Free childcare

These may be factors, but they aren’t the main reason, these only form a secular shell.

The reason is a relationship with, or an interest in, God.

That can be done at home, but that ignores large chunks of the bible. Church was God’s idea. Lot’s of the letters in the New Testament were written to churches. Church isn’t the building, it’s the people. We’ve recently been looking at the One Another commands, these commands need other people to one-another with.

Some people have been hurt and scarred by churches, but don’t let your past dictate your future.

  • A bad parent doesn’t make every parent bad.
  • A bad marriage doesn’t make every marriage bad.
  • A bad church doesn’t make every church bad.

Why did God give us unique fingerprints? To remind us that we have been made unique.
Each church is unique as it is made up of unique people. Each person has unique gifts and abilities. Each person has a part to play.

If you’re an eye trying to be an ear, then you’re not going to be good at it. Plus you’re stopping an ear from being an ear.
If you’re a hand, and you’ve been a hand a long time, maybe consider: is it time to be a wrist, to support a hand?

God has called us, chosen us, appointed us, to His church. We are hear today because God has chosen us. He knew us before we were formed, He was the first to hear our heart beat, the first to love us.

The reason we’re here is a whole lot less about us, and a whole lot more about God. We can’t do anything in our own strength. The Holy Spirit has the power. God used and uses the most unlikely characters to create the biggest ripples.

Consider one another better than yourselves

5 12 2013

Housegroup was called off this evening for various reasons, so seems the perfect opportunity to put up my notes from the last in the One Another series 🙂

Galatians 6vv3-5 and Philippians 2vv3-11

This command is the starting point for any of the one another commands.

False teachers think their self-righteousness is in keeping the law, but we are robed in Christ’s righteousness.
Those that see themselves as spiritual elite don’t want to help and get their hands dirty.

There’s a story that says Muhammed Ali was once on a flight, and when asked to put on a seatbelt, replied “Superman don’t need no seatbelt”. To which the air stewardess responded: “Superman don’t need no airplane either”. (Can’t remember how that anecdote tied in, but definitely seemed worth sharing!)

To carry someone else’s burdens we have to put our own down for a while. It can be costly.

Christ became nothing for us so that we might inherit everything. We can serve others, recognising that they are robed children of God.

There is a correct form of pride, not that compares self to others, but we can take pride in ourselves because Christ has poured Grace into our lives.

We don’t need self esteem classes, we just need the Gospel.

Christ died for us, we should be proud that we have been saved and adopted into God’s family.

“for each one should carry their own load.” – Galatians 6v5
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” – Galatian 6v5
seem contradictory. But the Greek for ‘load’ is not the same as the Greek for ‘burden’.
A burden would be something like a massive container, something that is too big for one person.
A load would be a rucksack, something that is our responsibility.

Our responsibility is doing everything for the Glory of God. Using our gifts to build His kingdom.

Uganda – Graduation

3 12 2013

Friday was graduation day! A ridiculously early start as the ceremony started at 9 and there was lots of security to get through first – by this point we were aware of the terror alert and so I think all the bag searches, armed guards and metal detectors actually made us feel safer.

We got in the room the ceremony was to be held in, and it was beautiful! It was decorated like a wedding reception, chair covers, centrepieces, everything!

What was weird was how the seating was organised. The room was in approximately 4 sections, front right – graduates, front left – sponsors (and us), back left – project works, other representatives (even DHL were there for all their work in delivering letters between children and supporters!), and back right, caregivers. The word “parent” wasn’t heard the whole day, there are so many different family combinations and dynamics, these students were brought up by all sorts of relatives, so the word for the whole day was “caregiver”.

It was ridiculous that we should have better seats than the graduates own families. But I guess that’s the way the whole week went, white people get treated like celebrities – kinda hard to handle occasionally.

The ceremony started with the graduates processing in while a group of kids from a Compassion project played To God be the Glory. There was also a group of kids from another Compassion project who did a dance as part of the entertainment – it was great to see how Compassion involved these kids, hopefully it’ll inspire them to work hard so that one day they can attend the ceremony as graduates themselves!

I scribbled down a few key quotes from the different talks again:

  • “Not everyone who is in a leadership position is leading” – Herbert
  • “Leadership is not about serving oneself, leadership is about serving others” – Herbert
  • “Leadership is an important combination of strategy and character, but if you must be without one, be without strategy”
  • “I believe that one day a formerly sponsored child will lead his or her nation” – Herbert
  • “Once Compassion, always Compassion” – Herbert
  • “Hope is rooted in faith”
  • “Our potential is God’s gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to Him”
  • HHH Leadership
    • Head (not empty headed)
    • Heart (Psalms, David led with his)
    • Hands (use the skills you have)

We heard from the Pastor of a church in Florida who sponsored over 2000 children, 700 of which were in the US, and also sponsored 7 LDP students, some of which were in that graduation ceremony.

As the students were called up in groups to receive their graduation certificates, they were also presented with a towel with the Compassion logo embroidered on it. This was to remind them that whilst they are leaders, they are servant leaders.

Also in the entertainment were an acapella group called Canaan Gents. These guys were phenomenal. Beautiful five part harmonies. They were even pulled up at the end of the ceremony to sing again even though they were on their way out of the building! Following the ceremony we all had lunch at our tables, chicken and rice for me, and then there was a cake buffet – what a great idea!

Of the 123 graduates, 10 were presented with awards for being “outstanding” – one of these was Edith, who I’d met on Wednesday, although her university graduation was on the same day, and so she wasn’t there. Another was Justina, who was also sponsored by someone in the UK. I found her afterwards and asked her to write a message in one of the programmes and I’d try to get it to her sponsor. A few of the other UK sponsored graduates gave me letters for their sponsors.

Later, we were sitting on the minibus in crazy heat waiting to go, no one really knew why we hadn’t left, just that we were boiling. Some people got a bit restless, and then, just when it was getting unbearable, Janat, who I’d met on Thursday, appeared at the minibus window and gave me a photo of herself for her sponsor, and gave me a bracelet as a souvenir and thank you. Ridiculously touching and humbling.

When we got back to the hotel we had a couple of hours to ourselves before dinner, so I put a pair of trousers on having worn skirts all week, and went for a walk around the hotel grounds. It contained a marina, and sat on the edge of Lake Victoria, so there was plenty to see. And to be honest, I could have just sat looking at those palm trees for hours and been happy!

We had our meal at the hotel restaurant again and then had a briefing ready for the next day when the sponsors would meet their kids! There were an awful lot of questions, they were all clearly excited and nervous, and wanting to do everything absolutely correctly!