Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Gal 5:16-26 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Sitting around in Byker with some veryvery good friends discussing this passage. "Which of the fruits of the Spirit do you see most in eachother's lives?" One of them (who will remin nameless) when it gets to my turn says exactly what I'm thinking. There are a lot more of the 'acts of the sinful nature' evident in my life than the 'fruit of the Spirit'. I like to think they were joking when they said it, but I have to admit it's true. So naturaly, in my normal way, I went into a massive sulk and lashed out and stomped and cried and pondered how much better everyone is than me.

Except I didn't.

Because something about the whole thing made a little bit of sense. I needed to hear this. I needed to see it in this way, but I didn't feel hopeless. I didn't feel rubbish (well... maybe a little). I didn't stomp OR whine. I didn't even run away and sulk. That would not have helped.

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires"

"Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature"

Who's responsibilty does it seem to be to crucify the flesh? From the look of the above, it's mine. (Oh dear.) So how exactly do I do that? It says it right there. not to gratify that nature.

Sorry if this is a bit elementry to you all, but I'm only just starting to get this. Apparently, if you don't want to act in a 'Sinful Nature' kind of way, the answer is to not act in a 'Sinful Nature' kind of way. Tempted to gorge yourself way over and beyond what you need? well... Dont. Choose to put down the pie (or the bottle or whatever). Something good happening to someone else in your life that twists you up with Jealousy? Well, choose to act the oposite way. Celebrate that good thing. Join in with their joy. I won't go through them all but you get the idea.

Since that Bible study I've been trying to choose. I can't choose how I feel, or what I want. I can however choose how I act and how I respond. I can choose to follow along with every thought and desire that pops into my mind, no matter how unhelpful, counter productive or plain unhealthy it is. Or I can choose to do the right and healthy thing. In other words to "keep in step with the Spirit" and I've found that when I do my feelings actualy change too. Which is a wonderful feeling.

I know there's more to it than this, I'll hopefully be adding more thoughts in future blogs.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Big Babies

I write to you dear children, because you have known the Father and have been forgiven on account of his name. I write to you young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you and you have overcome the evil one. I write to you Fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning.
1 John 2:12-14 (slightly paraphrased)

Have you ever struggled with the idea of forgiveness and holy living? God's grace is unlimited. We're saved by faith, not by works, therefore we should not spend all of our attention on not sinning and on being good christians, because in doing this it becomes an idol before God in our lives. If God's grace covers our sins, then shouldn't we sin all the more "so that grace may increase?" This doesn't work! We should live lives worthy of the calling. We should turn from sin. We should "go and sin no more" Is anyone else confused by this? For a while now, I've been living with the understanding that we have to somehow try, without trying.

Today however, I discovered the above, and for me it's a little clearer now. When we start out, we're like little children. We get more of our food around our face than in our stomachs. We fall down more than we walk. We can't talk. We can't stand. We certainly can't fight! This passage tells us, in the beginning, we know God, and he forgives us, and that is all. I remember that time very clearly in my own life. But it don't stop there. The idea is then that we start to grow up. What does that look like? We become STRONG, The word of God LIVES in us, and we overcome the evil one. The verse above calls this becoming a young Man (would it be heretical to say 'or Woman'? surely it applies to ladies too)

How do we get strong? by training! by using the gifts God gives us for ministering to one-another. By starting to resist sin NOT forgetting that God forgives us EVERY time we fail. Which we will. How does the word live in us? by taking it on board. Not just reading the bible, but applying it. BELIEVING what it tells us, DOING what it says, considering it's mysteries. How do we overcome the evil one? By making use of our training to resist and fight him. By having the word living inside us ready to answer his taunts, temptations and lies. In this way, our relationship with God grows. We're not babies anymore. We're strong. We're overcomers! We are Men! (or Women)

As we continue in this life, being first and foremost completely and constantly forgiven and knowing God, then moving on to taking in the word and fighting the battles and winning more and more victories, that isn't the end either. The 'Fathers' (and Mothers) are the ones who have been doing all of this for a while. They're seasoned in battle, they've got a good store of living word. They have experience and they have an awesome relationship with God. Deep and fruitful. Isa 61:3 calls them Oaks of Righteousness. Old, strong and unshakeable.

So where are you along the way? Are you still just a baby? needing constant care and bottle feeds? Are you starting to grow? to take the word on board? fighting and sometimes winning? Or even further along? Actually helping those around you to grow and fight and learn? We can't stay babies. We've got to grow up. Get with THE FATHER, get into THE WORD, get trying while relying on his forgiveness when you get it wrong. C.S. Lewis says it is nonsensical to argue whether faith or works are more important in salvation. It's like asking which blade of a pair of scissors can be done without. It's only when we've gotten to the end of our own ability to live right that God meets us and enables us to go on. And God stretches us in this. I remember my Dad teaching me to swim. He would stand a few steps away, and I would swim to him, but each time he would stand a bit further back, or he would walk backwards a little as i kicked and splashed and thrashed trying to get to him. Not because he didn't want me to reach him, but because I would only get better at swimming if he made it a little harder each time. God does this too. he stretches us by taking little steps back sometimes when we really need him, SO THAT when we press forward, it takes a little more effort to reach him. Also, don't forget, there are Oaks of righteousness around. Find some, and speak to them. Ask their advice, ask for their prayers. It's ok to get help from these people. In fact, that's the whole point!

We're forgiven, and not by works, so why should we try? because trying is surely trusting in works? but if we don't try, then we just wallow in our sin, and this is mocking God's grace and mercy. Here I find my answer. We're forgiven, so that we can start to learn, start to grow, start to fight. Relying on God's everlasting love and forgiveness, but we've got to put him first. We've got to rid ourselves of idols. We've got to use the grace to make our mistakes, which we will WHILE we learn and grow and strengthen. We can't give up on ourselves, we can't just enjoy our freedom and ignore God. We've all got to grow up.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


This is what I've been thinking about recently. Can we recognise God speaking to us, because he says 'If'. For example... "If my people who are called by my name..." (2 Chron 7:14) "(If you) seek, you will find. (If you) knock, the door will be opened" (Matt 7:7 - Thanks to Mandy for that contribution) I've been wondering. Can we recognise the voice of God, because he gives us a choice. Another example? The Psalms are full of 'Let us...'

The World, and the enemy don't give us a choice. At least, they don't want to. Everything is 'must have', or 'irresistable'. Speaking of temptation... How often do we feel we don't have a choice? How often does the enemy TELL us that we don't have a choice. "You have to" Temptation is too much for us (It's a lie btw... you don't have to at all)

So, that's what I'm thinking. Paul felt compelled to go to Jerusalem. (Acts 20:22+23 I am going to Jerusalem, bound by the [Holy] Spirit and obligated and compelled by the [convictions of my own] spirit, not knowing what will befall me there-- Except that the Holy Spirit clearly and emphatically affirms to me in city after city that imprisonment and suffering await me AMP)

Is it reading between the lines too much to suggest that God said to Paul "If you go to Jerusalem, it won't be a fun time. There will be prison and pain" (That's the StJames Paraphrase version)
Then, Agabus gives him a Prophecy about the terrible things that will happed IF he goes to Jerusalem and tell him not to go. Tells him God is warning him not to go, so Paul says "I hold myself in readiness not only to be arrested and bound and imprisoned at Jerusalem, but also [even] to die for the name of the Lord Jesus" (21:13 AMP) or "Yea, God's already told me what he wants, so I'm doing it" (StJames Paraphrase Version)

So, what do you think. Because it seems to me, when God want's to direct us, he tells us the choice. He doesn't command us, he just says what he wan'ts and sometimes what will happen.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Christian Maths

When two Christians are following Christ together there is not twice as much Christianity as when they are apart, but sixteen times as much.
C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Isn't it funny what God uses to speak to us sometimes...

A perfect Martini, is made from either Gin or Vodka, Vermouth, and a 'Briney Olive'. There are many methods for combining these ingredients, depending on your preference. These include, but is not limited to: Shaken or stirred? How many times do you stir? What order to you put the ingredients in? Do you mix the Vermouth in, or just 'perfume' the ice pefore pouring it out again?
If you want my opinion, bring some Noille Prat and some Olives to my house, and I will show you.

So I was thinking about Martinis in church this week (like you do...). I was thinking that I don't have them very often. They are my favorite cocktail. I have Vodka chilling in the fridge. I've got a proper Martini glass (important). I even have cocktail sticks. I have recently run out of Vermouth, but that isn't why I don't have them very often. The reason is because the olives in the fridge are a bit old. I bought them a few weeks ago.
You see, a Martini without an olive, isn't a Martini. It's the Olive that makes it! The only thing worse than vodka and vermouth without an olive, is vodka and vermouth with an OLD Olive. The Olive is very important. I could drink a martini from a wine glass, or a whiskey glass. It wouldn't be the same as a Martini glass, but at least it would be a Martini. A Martini without an Olive just isn't worth bothering with. So, this is the problem. I've bought my Vodka, and that keeps for ever. You only have to buy a bottle every now and again. The glass is pretty much a once and for all purchase. Cocktail sticks never go off, and you get hundreds in a pack. Olives however are only good for a few days. I don't buy Olives every week, and because of that the vodka, the glass, the cocktail sticks and the shaker sit idle and gather dust.

God spoke to me through this. You see, I've got all the ingredients for a beautiful cocktail. I've got things that are once and for all: I've been baptised. I've been forgiven and accepted by God. I've also got things that I don't need to 're-stock' very often: My Bible, Christian friends and a devotion journal book. Somehow though, when I shake all these things together, it just isn't right, and I've figured out why. It's either because I'm using an old Olive, or missing the Olive out all together.

The Olive is connecting with God. Interacting with him. Recieving from him. Listening to him. Olives are not very big, but they have a massive impact. And they don't keep for long. You have to get new ones. The fresher the better.

God... Give us each day, our daily Olive.