Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Random thought.

Recently I have been doing a reading plan for the bible, titled "why could we read the bible?" I have found it quite interesting. Yet today, this verse really caught my eye.

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10 KJV)

Are we doing the same?

It really made me think and question how much I have prepared my heart for the word and law of God. Have I embedded God's message on my heart? Am I actively seeking the word? If I'm honest I would say it is far easier to prepare your heart to just listen to the word than to actively seek it.

The second part made me think even more.
...and to do it...

Ezra had prepared his heart to do the word. Of course there are some parts of the word which are easy to do, others not so easy. In James, we are called to be doers not just hearers of the word.Are we acting on what we hear and read?

But I think what caught my attention the most was that Ezra was prepared to teach the word. He was prepared to share the word, to help people understand it. Are we prepared to do the same? It can be particularly difficult to teach the word, especially when we know it already but it is so important. People need us to explain the bible to them, to help them to understand God. We need to be prepared.

If we just seek Gods word, we will help nobody. But even if we just start acting on what we hear we will be showing others and teaching others. We need to be people who are willing to step out and teach others, help them to understand.

So Jesus, please help me when I seek your word. Please prompt me every day to prepare my heart. Help me to be a doer of your word. Please help me to be a good teacher of your word. Amen. X

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Dry Bones

It has been a really long time since I last posted a blog. So much has happened:

  • I am learning to drive :)
  • I have finished all of my AS exams.
  • I have started to look around several universities - hugely scary! 
  • I have been to Auschwitz on a history trip - very eye opening.
  • I have preached at LIFE.
  • And loads more exciting things!! :D
And this is just some of the things that I have been up to recently. So much has changed, yet so little has changed... I still love to write and I still feel I have so much to say so I have decided to start writing this blog again, as often as possible. 

A little while back I was listening to Hillsong and their song 'Bones' really spoke to me. It says, "You can take my dry bones, breathe life into this skin..."
I decided to look into the passage that inspired the song, Ezekiel 37. 

God grabbed me. God's Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"
I said, "Master God, only you know that."
He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!'"
God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
(The Message Version)

God gives Ezekiel a vision of the people of Israel, a valley of dry bones, emphasising the way in which they no longer have true life - Jesus (the way, the truth and the life) - as a part of their lives. Equally though this picture is also true of all of us. It is true of all people who do not know Jesus, and people who are not living life to their full potential.
God tests Ezekiel's faith saying, "Son of man, can these bones live?" Today God asks us the same thing, in things that seem so hopeless, so dry and so dead, God questions whether we believe that they can live. More importantly I think that God is asking us whether we trust him to bring our dry bones to life, and whether we trust him to bring our friends and family back to him.
But this is not supposed to be a picture of despair and desperation, no it is a picture of hope. When Ezekiel prophesies over the bones to 'hear the message of God,' God starts work. He starts to take the bones, he breathes life back into them and he fits them together. God will fix our dry bones, if only we would believe that he could. 
But this is also a huge picture of hope for our friend and families, for the LIFErs and for anyone who does not know Jesus. God can bring true life to them. 
We are all dry bones to some extent, struggling in some areas of our life. We all need God. 
So let God grab your attention, listen to him, believe him and tell your dry bones to 'listen to the message of God'.

'He can take your dry bones, breathe life into your skin...'




Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Home Sweet Home

So I am back after a fabulous week and a half away! Just thought that I would summarise my trip into a blog - which will be pretty long so be prepared. I had such an amazing time growing in God and working for his glory. I made some awesome friendships with the guys we went in our team and with some of the people I met at the camp. I really cannot even begin to describe the effect it has left on me, but here goes...

DAY ONE
All on the mini bus
Arriving at Gatwick
We got onto a pretty crowded mini bus and made our way to the lovely airport of Gatwick. After loading up the many guitars and other musical items beyond my understanding, trying to get the plastic gun through check in, and having a pretty good meal we got on board the flight that was to take us to this new country. Work or pleasure??? That is a question often asked at the airport. It was a pretty tricky answer for us - on one hand we were working for God, but God's work can be pretty fun to be honest so hmm....
The hot air of Tirana hit us instantly as we got of the flight. We got into an even more crowded (probably illegal in English standards) minibus and drove through the beautiful, warm evening to Elbasan where we would be staying for the next few days.

DAY TWO
Heather & Me
The guys by their poster
Swimming...well
Saturday was a seriously hectic yet fabulous day spent in the city. The girlies on the trip were staying about 10 minutes away from the boys apartment so we walked to theirs for breakfast. We met the lovely Elsa and went with her to Klea radio station where she works with Dave, Lee, Matt and Stuart. The guys performed a really amazing acoustic version of Dave's new song 'The Light'. Lee and I were pretty blown away to be honest! We went to a swimming pool in Elbasan which was like a taste of heaven in the heat. We cooled off, chilled out and sunbathed and then rushed back to the theatre where we started to set up for our first concert. There were quite a few technical problems which was not cool at all but the band were still awesome, the drama was a hit and Lee preached so well. We all decided that the setbacks were just trying to put us off doing God's good works. 

DAY THREE


Leading worship @ Elbasan Church
On the Sunday we went to the Elbasan church where Ethos led worship. I was so moved by the way that we were welcomed into such a different culture. There was something truly special about singing to the same God in two different languages. Lee spoke as well which was really amazing. People came forward for prayer as well which was awesome. Some of the team went to visit a family who we had met Day two in the swimming pool. They were an English missionary family. I stayed at the boys apartment and spent the afternoon chilling out and getting to know some of the guys on the team better. We went out to a restaurant for dinner which was lovely. 

DAY FOUR
Amy, Arselda, Nerila, Paola and Me
The boys
Sam
Zak
On the Monday we travelled to Librazhd, a much smaller town than Elbasan, where we were due to put on another concert. We stopped at a cafe near the edge of the town where we met some of the girls: Paola, Arselda, Brisilda and Nerila. They were really lovely people and we had lunch with them after handing out leaflets about the concert in the town. We were faced with the pretty huge problem that the government was working on electrics therefore the theatre was in pitch black. We had an amazing team time of worship and prayer asking God to help us out and asking for him to basically sort the electrics out for us. Half an hour before the concert was due to start we realised we may have to change our plans. We started planning to do the concert outside instead. Then God came through miraculously - the lights came on 15 minutes before we needed to start the concert!!!!!! Was pretty tight but I feel it bought us all closer and it made us all realise that we definitely couldn't do this without God. The worship was the best I have ever heard the guys play! The drama was a hit again and so was the preach!

DAY FIVE
Pogradec
The Camp
At the lake in Pogradec
Stuart & Liam at the lake
On the Tuesday we travelled to Pogradec. It was soo beautiful!!!!! The scenery in Albania is actually stunning with gorgeous lakes and mountains. We were all pretty relieved at the quality of the facilities! We chilled out with each other in the afternoon, preparing for the start of the conference. We also had a quick trip to the lake which was beautiful. We went out for dinner which was fab. 

DAY SIX
Practising for the conference
Us girlies at the welcome desk
The morning was spent trying to get ready for the conference. People started to arrive. The meeting was absolutely awesome! Liam gave a great 'chains' preach, and the worship was so good!!! We met lots of new people too. The guys said that they felt that this year they had started how they had finished last year, which made us all pretty excited for the end of this conference!! 

DAY SEVEN
By the lake in Macedonia
The tortoise that the boys saved at the border crossing
On our trek to the lake
Day seven was started by a fab morning meeting. The seminars went very well which was a relief. In the free time we decided to travel to Macedonia which is about 20 minutes from Pogradec. We walked for quite a bit after crossing the border (despite Lee's claims that it was only 20 minutes!) The scenery was soooo worth the walk though. The lake was beautiful, although Stuart, Zak and Liam came across a rather large snake. It was such a good afternoon. We got to know some of the girls who we were sharing with a little better and prayed for healing for one of the girls too. After an amazing evening meeting we stayed up pretty late trying to get to know some of the Albanians a little better. The girls from Librazhd taught us some dancing which was rather hilarious and we played volleyball with them as well. Some of the other guys played football with them. It was a great way to get to know people better and we had great fun despite me being embarrassingly bad at volleyball and the dancing!!!!

DAY EIGHT
The evening meeting

The morning meeting and the seminars at the conference went well again. I spent the afternoon with a great girl called Erina. We talked about so many different things to do with Albania, friends, the band, England... It was really lovely and a great bonding session I feel. In the afternoon we decided to go down to the lake. Personally I didn't fancy swimming in the water, despite its beautiful appearance, so decided to go out on a pedalo. Boy was I mistaken thinking I wouldn't get wet going out with the guys!!! Sam and I got rather drenched thanks to Zak and Stuart's diving and bombing. It was great fun though. We had an absolutely mind blowing evening session. The worship was great, we performed the everything drama and Lee did an amazing preach on the holy spirit. Loads of people came forward for prayer! After the everything drama, Lee asked if anyone would like to become a christian. Thanks to God working through that drama - 12 people were saved!!!!! Holy spirit came powerfully that evening!!! 

DAY NINE
Saying goodbye 
Nerila, Stuart, Jona, Arselda & Xhulia
Everybody
video
Today was the last day in Albania. The morning meeting involved us all praying for the different churches who had attended the conference, including Kerith. It was kind of strange because they were all so grateful and said they felt so blessed to have us there yet we all felt blessed to be there. We had some laughs taking pictures with the people we had met and said goodbye to everyone. Then we started our travels back to Tirana airport. We stopped in Elbasan where we went to the swimming pool again which was soo nice! Then we piled onto the mini bus once again, and made our way through the beautiful country to the capital. We boarded the flight home absolutely shattered, laughing and giggling at the stupidest things and pretty excited about getting home. 


The whole trip was an amazing opportunity and experience that I feel so blessed to have been a part of. I genuinally feel that God worked powerfully in Albania whilst we were out there and know he worked powerfully in the teams hearts too. If there was one thing I could definitely take away from Albania, it would be relationships. I feel I have got to know myself better on the trip, I have built a stronger relationship with God and I have made some great friends because of the trip. I hope we will all stay close as a team because I was so honoured to have been a part of such an amazing group of people. 







Thursday, 22 July 2010

Ready and raring to go!!!!!!!

albania.jpg
So this time tomorrow I will be with a fantastic group of people in Albania. I seriously cannot wait!!! I know God is going to do amazing things whilst we are out there not just in the country, but in the team as well. It is a completely new experience for me to go to a different country with the church. I feel pretty nervous about everything I'm involved in, purely because I want to give the trip everything I have. 
At the same time though I am aware that this trip has nothing to do with what I give it. My involvement cannot impact anybodies life. But Christ who lives in me can. He has abundant resources, he can help people, he can teach people, he can give strength, he can impact the most stubborn people, he can warm the coldest hearts, he can revolutionise the way that Albania sees God. 

So really my job out there, and the whole teams job, is simply to show Jesus to the people. To tell people they can live a life of victory, to teach people that the sovereign king accepts them and wants to use them. 
I am praying that during the trip my love for God will be clearly shown through every action I do and every word that leaves my mouth. I am praying that God will keep giving the whole team new strength and new passion so that we can pass it on. I know that many people will be awakened by God during the trip, that they will be touched by the worship, drama and seminars. That they will be inspired.

I'm going to put everything I am into this trip. I'm going to try my best to bring glory to God everyday in everything I do. And I'm praying for the whole team, that we will be the start of something new in Albania. That we will be good representatives for Kerith, for Bracknell, for Great Britain and for God!!
Hello Albania!!!!!

Monday, 19 July 2010

He works for good in everything...

Last week was pretty tricky to say the least. I cannot think of a succession of days where I have had to rely on God so much. Wednesday bought about the horrific news that Annie had died. The tragedy completely challenged me and made me look to God and rely on God in a new way. I would have called Annie my friend, although I did not know her half as well as many people. I would have liked to know her better. Seeing the devastation that the event caused, and the enormous amount of people affected by her death you can safely say that she was a truly incredible person. She made me laugh a lot especially when I saw her on Friday's at LIFE. It didn't matter that I did not know her because she was always smiling so you felt you knew her anyway. For me it was the first time that I had experienced death like this. I have had deaths in the family etc. but I was young and was not directly affected by them. I cannot remember them that well. But Annie I remember. Annie I knew. It was a huge shock to me and put everything into perspective. It made me cry. It hurt. It hurt me how unfair it seemed and it hurt me to see everyone so devastated. It made me question God. The first thing I could think about was "why?" Why Annie? Why now? Why would you let this happen? Why?

I haven't found any answers to those questions. Instead I've found a whole new depth to my relationship with God. A relationship not based on the answered questions and the seen miracles, but a relationship based on the unanswerable and the unseen. A relationship that knows one things for sure: God is God.
When God prompted Moses he asked why him? why now? He also asked who God was. God's answer was "I AM who I AM... you are to say...I Am has sent me to you." I am. The alpha and the omega. The beginning and the end. There is no category for God. He just is who he is. We can't alter him, he's unchangeable, intangible and mysterious. He works in ways I cannot understand. I cannot understand why Annie was killed. No one can answer my whys. But there is one thing I know. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him..." Romans 8:28. This verse has meant something completely different in my life this past week. I've had to put all of my strength into trusting God, relying on him, and believing this verse. I've needed to embrace the answers I do know and I've needed to let go of the questions unanswered.

Many good things have come out of this past week for me though.
I have felt the power of community - I have known how powerful it is to share someones tears.
I have learnt to trust God in EVERY circumstance.
I have been challenged to choose to worship, really worship - not just to sing the lyrics when I feel like it but to mean them and sing them even in troubled times.
I have known and seen God as the comforter.
I have known and seen the effect of his great peace.
I have felt God with us so powerfully.
I have been reminded that we have hope
I have learnt to see the bigger picture.


So reflecting on this week, well, it's been a bit of a blur. It's hurt, it's stung. It's seemed unjust and unfair. But God has been there. Something my Grandad said has really helped me this week and writing this has reminded me of it. "We cannot always understand his will but we will always rest under the shelter of his wing." God has been there for me and for many others in a whole new way this week. I want to be on fire for him. I choose to follow him no matter what. I choose to trust him. I choose to have faith in the creator of the universe - the one who made me, the one who holds time in his hands. The one who works for good in everything...

Friday, 9 July 2010

Friends

Sometimes I worry about friends. It's easy at school to worry that I do not know who my friends are. I am friends with quite a few groups of people and sometimes that can feel like I don't have any close friends. But I have found that the more I get involved with church and the more I focus on God, the more proper friends he blesses me with. God provides our needs, and often I forget that that means he will provide good relationships for me also.



friends.jpg



Yesterday I had a fabulous evening with some fabulous friends who I have been really blessed with. They make me laugh uncontrollably and more importantly I feel comfortable around them. They are major parts of my journey with God. 
Amy and Charlee. 
Yesterday evening I met a lovely friend of Amy's, we had an outstandingly delicious curry cooked by Amy's dad, and we watched some rather lovely films. I have never eaten so much popcorn. 
Now Amy, I have known for quite a while but in the last year or so I feel we have grown much closer together. She is brilliant. Charlee, I have only known for just over a year and I think she's hilarious and lovely. Now I can't mention them, without mentioning Anna. Anna like Amy, has been a friend for quite a while and is always there making me giggle about something ridiculous - however the lucky Anna is currently in America holidaying. They are friends I can pray with, and laugh with. They are all fantastic girls. I hope that I am a fraction as fantastic as them. All of them are going to do amazing things for God. I mean AMAZING! Seriously, the future is so exciting. 
Writing about my friends reminds me that God is my best friend. Sounds so cheesy but its true. I mean what is a best friend? A best friend is someone you trust, someone who listens, someone who encourages, someone who you don't mind if they correct you, someone who makes you laugh, someone who you are comfortable around, someone who knows everything about you. That is so God. He is trustworthy, listens to everything, encourages, corrects our ways, is a bit of a joker, and who we can be comfortable around. He knows everything - my secrets, my fears, my failures, the things I love. He cares for us and loves us. 

John 15:13
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

God is our friend.
 In Romans 5:10 it says,  "For since our friendship with God was restored...we will certainly be saved..." . Because of Jesus' death on the cross, God is our friend. 
I don't need to worry about relationships. He is the creator of relationships. 
 God, I am so grateful for my friends. Please help me to be a good friend. Amen.