Saturday, 5 September 2009

Church be off the hook these days


Once again I start with an apology that I have written in a while. I might just create a draft so I stop having to write sorry at the beginning of each blog.

Its been well over 2 and half months since my last post!!! I have been home for that amount of time, and although it was difficult to adjust at first I am now really enjoying it. Looking for jobs is my main objective at the moment, which can be quite frustrating at times. I know God will provide just waiting on his timing not mine.

Lets get straight on with because I need to fill out some application forms!

I've recently got back from Momentum, which is a Christian festival in Somerset. It was amazing! I went with over 20+ people from church and it was just amazing to spend time with them, as well really working on my relationship with God.

On the first evening of Momentum the evening talk discussed the growing problem in the 20-30's age gap. It was described as the church is 'hemorrhaging 20-30's', meaning there is a growing lack of this age group in church. There are some churches in the inner cities that are thriving with this age gap yet the church in local towns are noticing a distinct gap.
Whilst I was away at uni my home church was struggling quite badly however, there was one amazing thing that came out of that. The church pulled itself together by seeing a need and knowing that they could serve that using their own initiative. From these groups the church became stronger, and solid friendships were formed. One group that did this was the 18+, which is the group I am part of. I had absolutely nothing to do with this but it is something I am incredibly grateful for. For over a year now this group has been thriving and there are some really solid friendships that have come out of it. There is time to be challenged through bible studies, and in depth conversations but there is also time to laugh...incredibly hardly. I cannot thank God enough to be in such a comforting place.

** I am coming at this from the angle of the seminar not the talk**

However, from going to the follow-up seminar of the first talk at Momentum I begin to understand that this is not the case for most people. It was a seminar for the guys at Momentum to get a real understanding of what was going on in the local churches away from the Christian festival bubble. I think like I was they were shocked with the comments and reactions of some of the people.

There were some there that had clearly been hurt by people in their church, and others who wanted to express words of encouragement. I left feeling disheartened. Not by church but by those comments that were discussed in the meeting. I do understand being in the age group of 20-30's can be difficult particularly in church. You may have grown up in that church then gone away from uni having learnt and change loads but people still think of you as 15. Maybe you haven't left at all but still changing loads and getting people to understand you as an adult can be challenging.

Having said all this church is going to hurt at one point regardless of age. And do you know why? Because church has people in it. Yes it is difficult to be in your 20-30's and yes church can be a so frustrating that it affects your walk with God. But if church was perfect, fulfilling all our needs you would not be in it. And why is that? Because 'for we have all fallen short of the glory of God' Romans 2:23. Meaning church will never be perfect and we will never be completely satisfied because we fail.

Church is not about a building, or the style of worship or even the preach (although these are important). Church is always about the people. The word church originates from the Greek word Ekklesia, which means group of people. When Christ said 'on this rock I will build my church' he is pledging for a group of people. Christ didn't give up his life for some walls, a particular style of worship or a bunch of cell groups, he gave his life up for his people, THE CHURCH. Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her".
So when we have upset Jesus by sinning he doesn't give up on us. He preserves with us, and forgives us. If we have been upset by the people in the church we need to act like Christ and forgive them. Christ on the Cross ask for the forgiveness of those WHO were mocking him during the middle of his crucifixion (Luke 23:34). In the middle of his pain caused by his people he forgives them.

Church is also referred to as one body. Not segregated with individual groups occasionally saying hi on a Sunday morning. Paul writes in Ephesians to be united Eph 4: 3-6 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all
We need to be united. We need to make every effort because if the church is broken how do we expect to reach the last, the least and the lost.
There should be no separation between ages as Christ accepts us all so the church accepts all. Ephesians 2:14,16 ' For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.....(16)Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death."

By Paul saying Jesus united Jews and Gentiles this is massive! Paul is saying he joined two opposite together by the crucifixion. If Jesus can do that with two opposites he can build that bridge between the 20-30s and the rest of the church.
With this in mind we need to make amends with those we have trouble with in the church because it is not God's purpose for his church, his people.

If we are united we will work more effectively, and we will see more saved. If we work in unity we will not see hemorrhaging of the 20-30's but people in that age group will see something attractive about church.

I do know that people come from different angles, and things have happened that are hurtful but sometimes being reminded of what God laid out for his people can be hard, and humbling but so worth it in the long run.

This is something on my heart! Massive stream of consciousness! Definitely something I need to work on to and I pray you will too.


Thursday, 18 June 2009

Conversation bursting with Grace

Once again its been a while, and once again I can only but apologise. I've been crazily busy over the last- Wait!- I just checked when I last wrote my blog and its been 2 months. ha! Thats crazy. I've completed uni, written 10,000 words on the 10th century English Church, and applied to many different jobs, with no avail as of yet. I think prayer would definitely be appreciated on that subject in particular.

Also, I think a shameless plug never hurts anyone! I am on twitter! follow me!! search me hollincross and if you write a little "@" message I'll respond. I have a really low follow count and I want more. Greedy yes...but its a little depressing how low my count is considering I've been on it since March!
Currently listening to Jason word: Amazing. Get involved.

Ok back to the actual blog rather than lame updates on my life. I've struggled with being inspired recently, and this means that I haven't been reading, praying etc. This has made me noticed that when I haven't been doing this I do lack inspiration, and the rest of my life seems to be a bit difficult. So I decided that I would do something about it, so last night I started to read 'Purpose Driven Life' by Rick Warren. This book had its peak a couple of years ago when I was 15/16, and at the time I thought it was self-help book and didn't really like it. As I started to read the first chapter last night it stated 'this is not a self-help book. It is not about finding the right career, achieving your dreams, or planning your life....Actually, it will teach you how to do less in life- by focusing on what maters most. It is about becoming what God created you to be' Rick Warren 'Purpose Driven Life' Zondervan Publishing 2002, pg 19.
From that point my theory was flawed. As I started to read I knew I was beginning an amazing journey, and I am excited about continuing to read.

Everyone has opinions one what type of person they want to be, how they want to live and be perceived yet it isn't something that can be changed with great ease. On Sunday I listened to a preach on being holy, and how this is a positive thing but can so often be negative. The bible calls us to be holy. It doesn't make much sense how we change that around. The problem is that we will never reach complete holiness because we are human, and we all fall short. What a pickle. How do we attempt to reach this holiness?

I've been challenged recently about the conversation I've been having. Being a girl it does seem to be natural to gossip and be negative towards other. I think one practical step at attempting holiness is our conversations. In Colossians 4: 5-6 it says this '5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

The biggest thinking point here is when we think are our conversations filled with grace? Truthfully mine aren't and it is a massive challenge because how can we show God's grace if the words of our mouth are not graceful? This passage is mainly about evangelism but I think it holds some key pieces of information when it comes to our normal, every-day conversations. The personal challenge I face now is that my conversation should be bursting full of grace, and in this way I will be one step closer to holiness, and the purpose of my life will be the greatest honour in the eyes of my maker.

It is a massive challenge and not an easy one at all but I will try and one way that I was reminded on Sunday it to remember the act of Grace. This is to remember what Jesus did on the cross, not just physically but mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Not only did it cause him physical pain but the amount of psychological pain as well is difficult to understand. I think everytime I sit down with my girlfriends and start to gossip if I remembered what he did, it may be difficult to sit comfortably continuing that conversation.

I'll keep you updated. I think this blog is a stream of consciousness rather than anything else.

Til next time...x

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Beautiful one, I love you


Once again its been a while since I last wrote something properly, so apologies for that. I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend, and regardless of how many eggs you got, oh I got SIX by the way, you remembered the real reason of Easter.

I am not here to chat about all that jazzzz. What I really want to talk about is something that I've been thinking about a lot recently, and this it the wonderful issue of self-esteem.

This a vast topic affecting both women/men, old/young, skinny/big. With alarming statistics suggesting that 1 in 100 girls between 15-30 have anorexia, and pro-anorexia websites boasting 3 million posts. It is clear that we have an epidemic on our hands. Researching this blog I went on some pro-anorexia sites, which are basically message forums where girls/boys who are suffering with anorexia discuss weight loss tips, how "fat" they feel, or even their scarily low weight. I was on it for about 5 mins and had to stop reading because I couldn't see through my tears. I have never read something so heartbreaking and there is nothing I can do to get through to them straight away, or with any real success.

Granted anorexia is the extreme level of low self-esteem but around 8 out 10 girls are not happy with the way they look. I asked a few teenage girls I know about what they thought of the way they looked and this is what they said.
  • umm the way I look I dont really like it well I mean im constantly comparing myself to others like they are so much better
  • sometimes but most of the time not really
  • well I'm normally quite happy with the way I look, obv sometimes I think I look really good and then other days I look like crap but honestly I think I need to lose alot of weight, because I find skinny really attractive.
  • The saddest thing is these types of phrases and attitudes are so common amongst not only teenagers but adults, and younger children. When we look at magazines, watch films and music videos we are constantly comparing ourselves to those we see whos weight, hair, eyes, clothes are so much better than ours.

    But who claims that to be beautiful? Surely beauty is the eye of the beholder? Of course it is, but that isn't enough. When Chaucer wrote Canterbury Tales the Wife of Bath was suppose to be beautiful, and she had buck teeth and a big forehead, not exactly what you'd find gracing the covers of Glamour Magazine. I am not one of the 2 in every 10 who is happy with the way I look, so this message is for me as well as you. Where do we find real beauty? How can we look at ourselves in the mirror and think "yeah I like".

    The bible teaches about the way we look at ourselves, and how we need to do this in a positive way.

    In Genesis 1:26-31 God created man, making us in his image and what he say was VERY good...not just good but very good. So straight away God thinks that we are very good, we are above average, we are beautiful. As soon as we are created God knows how good we are, and how good we will be.

    In Psalm 139:14-17 . This is one of my favourites because God is saying we were fearfully and wonderfully made. Not by chance, or half-hearted but we are wonderful, in other words AMAZINGLY made. God planned us well before we knew ourselves and he was happy with the way we were made.

    Proverbs 30:31 says that charm, i.e flirting(!) and beauty will fade with age so someone who fears/loves their God needs to be praised.

    We need to stop thinking we are ugly, fat, and unworthy. We need to remember this.

    Zephaniah 3:17 (New International Version)

    17 The LORD your God is with you,

    He is mighty to save.

    He will take great delight in you,

    He will quiet you with his love,

    He will rejoice over you with singing."

    God rejoices over us with singing, and takes great delight in us. We need to start believing this about ourselves. That we are worthy and beautiful the way we are. The song beautiful one, "beautiful one, I love you" is something God is singing over us. Regardless of what anyone says to us because God rejoices over us with singing. He made it and he said it was VERY good.

    Lets start believing it. Beauty is what God tells us is beauty and he tells us that we are beautiful, he is pleased and rejoices over us.

    Songs of Solomon 4:7

    All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.

    In God's Eyes we are flawless....from the top of heads to the tips of our toes and everything in between. We are beautiful beyond compare. Stop doubting and start believing.

    If this rings home for you please email me.

    Monday, 30 March 2009

    blog count

    Just quickly:

    I do a blog count just to see if anyone reads these. And surprisingly they do!

    In 10 months 1500 people have read my lil blog, which is nice.

    So a massive thank you to all of you who have read my blog, whether it be for the first time or you are a regular.

    Thanks once again.


    Friday, 20 March 2009

    Prosperity...a load of....


    I am suppose to be writing an essay but I thought I would quickly write this. quickly I promise.

    Prosperity Gospel. I hate the prosperity gospel. I hate that people think the prosperity gospel is correct. I hate that the prosperity gospel is being taught in churches across the UK. God hates the prosperity gospel. But God loves those who are following this so called "gospel".

    Hate is a strong word to use so many times in one sentence, but I genuinely struggle with the idea that people think its is correct. There is NO teaching about the prosperity gospel in the bible, it is all man's conceived idea that they will adapt the gospel to reach their own potential and their own ideology.

    The prosperity gospel is the idea that God wants us to prosper in success, whether this be in money, healthy, safety etc. As much as this is a lovely idea it is wrong. We all want to be successful, and we all want to make something of ourselves but sometimes this won't happen. This is not because God loves our richer friends more than us, this is simple down to God having a different plan for each individual.

    If we look closely at 2 Corinthians 12 it says this:
    1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
    7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    I know it is a big chunk but there is so much to take from this, that simply disqualifies any fundamental "facts" about the prosperity gospel.

    1) 'I will go on boasting although there is nothing to be gained"
    Paul is clear that he knows that boasting about Christ is not about him and not about his gain. He knows that it is all for God and the advancement of God's kingdom. He is not boasting in himself and he is not for his own gain but he is boasting in CHRIST and for CHRIST'S GAIN.

    2) I will not boast about myself- There is nothing that we can do here on Earth that is going to gain our salvation. There is nothing we can do that can better ourselves that will glorify God, which is something we should be aiming for.

    3) My grace is sufficient enough for you, my power is made stronger in your weakness- This is the biggest fact. God' grace is enough. We do not NEED anything else but grace. When we are weak God is stronger. Why is that appealing? Through that we can be stronger but not through material things but through faith.

    4) For Christ's sake I delight in my weakness- Through our weakness he is made strong. We delight in our weakness because it enables us to be clear and thankful for what God has already done.

    Prosperity gospel is not evident in this at all. There is no place in God's kingdom for prosperity gospel. We are not saved so we can advance ourselves, we are saved through God's mercy and love. Nothing else.

    If anything we should be asking God to be satisfied in him, as John Piper said God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him. When we are most satisfied in him and not the progression of our successes.

    Please take a couple of minutes to watch this quite harrowing, hard-hitting video on the prosperity gospel.

    If this is something that you in believe in then maybe you should consider looking back into the word and really try discover for yourself the true meaning of self-sacrificing faith.

    Til next time


    Tuesday, 17 March 2009

    update on facebook loss....

    I'd like to say that I am still not on facebook!!!

    I have not once logged in. My status and picture changed because my housemate is running for union president, so my other housemate changed it for me to help Wood out!

    Only a few more weeks to go!!!

    Its going ok! woop!

    Also, this updates my profile automatically without me logging on!!!

    Sunday, 1 March 2009

    Lent...facebook....power in his name.

    Hey Guys,

    Firstly, I can not believe it is March already!!! Its mental. I know people say it a lot but time really does fly. Gosh! I really need to crack on with my uni work. Essays...dissertations (actually singular...imagine plural dissertations!!) its all crazy times.

    So, its lent....I usually don't do anything for lent because it doesn't really have any significance in my life. However, I had decided that this year I would abstain from chocolate, swearing and fast food. Thus far, I am doing very well in the chocolate region...the others not so much. I ate Domino's last night (for a justified reason) and I swore when I hurt myself!! Bad times.

    As I was in church this morning the sermon was on Acts 19, this is when they reach Ephesus and there is the chaos concerning the Goddess Artemis.
    So, basically in short they are really worshipping this Goddess, practicing occults etc and when they see the power in the name of Jesus when it rids a demon, they publicly burn their stuff associated with the occult and Luke says 'in this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew power'. (Act 19:20).
    This got me thinking about my Lent actions and things that are in my life that can sometimes override the power of God in me. Unlike these people I am not bounded my witchcraft, occults or the worship of idols but there are things in my life that take up my time, effort and focus when it could be used something that is more beneficial. I am not necessarily saying that I am going to use this time to read my bible, pray etc, all of which I should do more of. However, I am very blessed to be at uni, getting a degree etc. Sometimes we think if we wasting our time we should be reading our bibles etc, which of course (I cannot stress enough) that we do need to be doing; but we need to look our lives and think am I putting in the effort in my school, uni, work that I should do. We are all so blessed to be where we are, in the west, with a house, food, clothes, job, education etc then why do we find it hard to get rid of things that aren't good for us?? Why do we put so much time in other things that distract us from reaching our potential that God has for us?
    Like, this people we don't understand the power in the name of Jesus so we target our attention on other things. We forget the blessings we have around us and try our attention elsewhere. For me, its Facebook. I am terrible!!! I am literally on it all the time, for example I am logged in now and have been for the last three hours. Its not that I am logged on but when I am not doing anything I'll just look around!? This is not such a massive issue but when I am suppose to be doing uni work I'll open facebook every other the point its a little ridiculous. I need to metaphorically burn this literally is an addiction. It sounds so trivial but I need to work hard at uni but something such as facebook is that hinderence. In Colossians 3:23 it says this
    "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men"

    And to be honest, I am not doing that. So going back to Acts 19: I am not understanding the power of Jesus' name and I am in uni for a reason and I need to achieve something that is good, like I am giving God a thanksgiving. So what I have decided to do is give up facebook!! Just at least til Easter just to see if I can do it. Its not biggy if I don't but I really want to work hard and test my self-control. It will start as of tomorrow (Monday 2nd) and I will only change my status if I do another blog so people can read it.

    If you're reading this and a regular visiting of my facebook profile please continuing writing on it and tagging me in pictures but I won't reply until its Easter or I've cracked. If you want to contact me then email me or just text me haha! I don't know how I am going to get on with this but who knows!

    I'll try and write another blog but I do have a lot of work to do!!! Please think about what I'v said

    Till next time