Why does a reliable machine need an extended guarantee?

A story about a dishwasher (no, not me) and a really pushy salesman.

Honest about my faith

dishwasherMy wife and I recently bought a dishwasher and encountered one of the pushiest sales people I have ever met. We arrived at the shop knowing what we wanted, we just needed to pick it up and go. The sales person spent some time explaining why we would pay an extra £50 for a different machine with more features. He explained himself well and made a good case but on the basis that we wouldn’t use most of those extra features we decided to stick with our original choice.

He went to check stock levels of both our choice and his preferred machine and came back and said both were available. He then began to explain again why we needed to buy the more expensive one that we had already said we didn’t want. After trying to reason with him for a while I just said that we were going to stick with…

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The One About Trying to get Signal

there-must-be-signal-here-somewhereAs we walked down the path, my son kept holding his hands up in the air.

Apparently he wasn’t praising God or even trying to block the sun that was shining in his eyes, so what was he doing?

You have probably guessed that he was looking for a phone signal!

You really have to be pretty passionate about a phone signal to wander around the countryside holding your phone in the air.

This left me wondering about how passionate I am about maintaining my signal with God.

You see, God is closer than you think! God promises to be with his followers always and so we can never be out of his presence.

God’s signal to us is strong, but we have to be willing to be open to receive his signal and to respond to it.

Are we willing to do this, even if it costs us or it involves us investing time or doing things that might look out of the ordinary?

God wants to know us and he was willing to send his son Jesus to this world to show us the way to God. Jesus chose to sacrifice himself on the cross in order to open the way for us to know God.🙂

God really does want to know us! How much do we want to know him?

May we become more passionate about receiving God’s signal!

Posted in Being honest about our faith, creative communication, discipleship, Faith, God is with us, Life experiences, Listening to God, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One Where I left My Mark

How are we leaving our Mark?

Honest about my faith

‘You might want to look in the mirror.’ My mind raced as I tried to understand what she was saying to me and as I looked frantically around I noticed the ink on my fingers and the penny dropped (or you could say, the ink-stained!)

We have a new printer/copier at church and I had spent some time setting it up. The first instruction in installing the toner cartridge was to remove the piece of plastic from the back of it. The problem with this was that the plastic was covering a roller that was covered in toner and so it then was quite a messy process to install the cartridge. The good news is that now that I understand how the cartridge fits it will be less messy next time, but on this occasion the main thing that I was glad that I only had ink on my hands, or so I thought.

Emily was in…

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I want to tell you the good news but I can’t

happy sadWe were eating a family meal a few days ago when all of a sudden my youngest daughter shouted out

‘I want to tell you the good news but I can’t’.

We had got some new pet rabbits that day but my other daughter had been out all day on a trip and so she didn’t know. We knew that my she would be too excited to eat anything if she knew there were rabbits in the garden and so we asked our other daughter not to tell her until after tea.

The rest of our meal time was dominated with the question ‘what’s the good news?

If we are following Jesus then we have such good news to share.

Jesus, loves, accepts us and he is with us through life. The all powerful Jesus who created and runs the universe is willing to relate to and know us. Now that is good news!

We have such good news, but lots of us feel awkward talking about it. My daughter’s outburst left me with two thoughts:

Are we so excited about the what we have found in Jesus that we feel like we are desperate to let people know?

Are we willing to be honest about our faith, even if we think that we shouldn’t or that people might be against what we are saying?

The truth is that if we aren’t really excited about what Jesus is doing then there is something wrong with our faith. We need to pray that God would ‘restore the joy of our salvation’, that we would grasp again spiritually, emotionally and rationally what Jesus has done and is doing for us.

If we have a faith that is alive then we will want to share the good news we have found and are experiencing!

Talking about faith in a secular world can be hard but we need to realize that so much of normal everyday conversation with people is sharing opposing points of view. Many of the people I know support different sports teams and have different tastes (some of them even like marmite!) and they even have different political opinions. If we can talk openly about what we believe rather than being confrontational then most people are open to hearing a different point of view. The other thing that helps me talk about my faith honestly is the realization that so much of everyday conversation with people is about how we feel and what we have been doing. If my faith is alive, then how I feel and what I do will be dominated by Jesus and I want to be honest about that.

After we had finished eating, my daughter was allowed to share the good news and everyone was excited as we all went out into the garden to see the rabbits.

You are allowed to share the good news today! As you do, some people may not want to know, but others will be really excited and there may be some great rejoicing in heaven as people turn to Jesus!

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A simple game/illustration to remind us that Jesus is in the midst

jesus-in-the-midst-gameJesus said that where two or three of his followers were gathered that he would be among them or in the midst.

At a recent church service, we learnt about this through an activity.

I invited the people who wanted to join in, to form a tight circle and then someone else had to attempt to break in. You can see young Nathaniel in this picture trying to force his way in, without much success. In the end he realized that brute force wasn’t going to work and so he crawled through someone’s legs.

We then played a second game where the person had to start in the circle with the aim of breaking out of the circle. I asked Matthew (who volunteered to break out) to go to the back of the church whilst I discussed strategy with the people making up the circle. I then primed them by saying that when I said go, that they were to turn their backs on Matthew and ignore him, not making any attempt to stop him leaving.

We got Matthew in the circle and then counted down, THREE, TWO, ONE, GO and as we did, Matthew was tensing his muscles and getting ready to throw himself at the circle. As the people in the circle turned away from him he looked confused before walking, easily out of the circle.

I then asked him how it had felt being ignored and he said ‘it felt like they all didn’t like me’.

When we gather, Jesus is among us, but do we want him to be there and do we acknowledge and look to him?

If Jesus was to wander away, would we care? Do our actions ever make it look like we really don’t like Jesus being around?

Imagine another game and how much worse it would be if as the people in the circle had ignored Matthew that they had been shouting out how great he was at the same time.

Is it possible to shout praise bout but to ignore someone at the same time?

I wonder if that is how we treat Jesus a lot of the time?

He is among us, but we can easily just talk about him instead of talking with him.

He is among us, but we can easily just listen only to one another rather than listening to him.

He is among us, but we can easily just look for good ideas rather than looking to and being led by Jesus.

So, Jesus is really among and with us! How will that make a difference to us and to the people around us?

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The One About A Special Moment

It might of been a special moment but it ended up being a funny moment. I’m glad it was thought provoking though!

Honest about my faith

walk hold handsIt had been a fantastic day out and we were nearing the end of a lovely walk. My daughter appeared alongside me and took my hand, we walked in silence for a while and then as she looked into my eyes and I knew she was going to say something profound. I was expecting perhaps

‘I love you dad’

or

‘Thanks for a lovely walk’

but instead she said

‘Do you have any chocolate biscuits left?’

Is this how we approach God?

When we turn our attention and focus on him perhaps God is longing for us to say

‘I love you’

or

‘Thanks for being with me’

but instead do we just ask him for stuff.

Don’t misunderstand me, God wants us to ask him for what we need. It’s just that there has to be more to a relationship than ‘can I have’ or ‘can you do this for me’.

How is…

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Surely he wasn’t worth inviting, or was he?

God will continually surprise us if we follow and trust in him, so why do we feel the need to play it safe all the time. If God is doing a new thing, I want to trust him and be a part of it even if it involves taking a risk!

Honest about my faith

God is doing a new thingThe father knew that the celebrity was coming to town and so he gathered his 7 oldest (out of his 8 sons) to meet the honoured guest.

What does that say about the father’s relationship with his youngest son, David?

David was at work. We don’t know if the father sent him there when he heard someone important was coming or if he just chose not to call him home. Another possibility is that David (who incidentally worked for his father) was just so good at his job that the father was reluctant to take him away from what he is doing.

Think about this from David’s perspective. You arrive home at the end of a long day and discover that you have missed out on someone who is really important and famous who had come to visit. David wasn’t considered worthy of being part of this great occasion.

Whichever way you look…

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The One Where Mary Poppins Came to Church

I certainly am not practically perfect in every way!

Honest about my faith

mary poppinsA few weeks ago, Mary Poppins came to Orchard Baptist Church and she even lent me her umbrella to use as an illustration in my talk.

We had invited people to come dressed as someone who inspires them and we had the children (and a few adults) turn up in all kinds of costumes as well as some who came with props. Iron man and batman came, someone bought a lightsabre and there was even a sonic screwdriver as well as Mary Poppins herself.

One of the things that I remember Mary Poppins saying in the film was that ‘she was practically perfect in every way’.

Often people feel like they have to be good enough before they come to church and it’s sad because Jesus believes the opposite.

You see, Jesus didn’t just call people who were well-behaved to follow him, he was known as the friend of sinners. When challenged about his friendship…

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Holding On and Being Held

psalm-63-8-cling-to-you-hold-handAs we paddled in the lake, the rocks were getting a little slippy and so my daughter took my hand.

As we waded deeper she held my hand tighter and I made sure that I had a good grip on her hand so that I was holding her securely.

This all happened several years ago, but I remembered it recently as I was reading Psalm 63. David, who wrote the Psalm was depressed, discouraged and deflated and he prayed to God, saying:

‘I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely’ (Psalm 63.8).

Psalm 63 is one of my favourite Psalms and I love the way that it reminds us that God holds us securely as we cling to him.

As my daughter clung to me in the lake I could have let go or pushed her into the water, but what kind of parent would do that?

God is our loving father and if we choose to cling to him then he will hold us securely.

It’s comforting to know that when we are clinging on for dear life, that God clings onto us with dear love.

 

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Posted in acceptance, Being honest about our faith, Everyone is valuable, Faith, God is our father, God loves us, Life experiences, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The one with the funny sign

Don’t you hate it when God is cryptic? Perhaps he has his reasons!

Honest about my faith

Colchester Zoo funny confusing signI saw this sign recently at Colchester Zoo but unfortunately I can’t swim very well.

Signs really can be funny things! The people designing and making them know what they mean but sometimes they can be confusing or just funny. It’s like the wording that used (and may still be?) on the bottom of a McDonald’s coffee cup, ‘warning, contents may be hot’.

sign funnyPeople talk about asking God for a sign.

Does God always speak clearly or is he ever cryptic?

Jesus often spoke in parables (stories). His language was simple but sometimes the message of the parable was hard to understand. Some of the time people had to ask Jesus what the parable meant and I wonder if this is really what he really wants from us?

Jesus doesn’t want to send us a set of impersonal instructions, he wants a relationship with us. He is not a heavenly Satnav, he is…

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