Archive | August, 2013

God 52 – Week Thirty Five (27/8/2013)

29 Aug

We all (and by ‘we’ I mean those of us who define ourselves as Christians) want our friends to know the love of God for themselves, right? I trust we’re not so fragmented a body that we can’t all agree on that one.

Yet if that’s what we want, how much of our time do we actually invest in helping that to happen? Perhaps the answer to that is actually ‘a lot’. Perhaps you spend a lot of your time performing practical acts of love for others which reflect God’s love for them. And if so, great.

This week’s challenge isn’t about that though. This week we’re not thinking about what we can do, but how we can pray for those same friends. This week, we’re going to be disciplined to pray regularly for those friends:

35: Write down the names of three friends, and begin praying for each of them to know and experience the love of God.

For some of us, that’s a lot harder than performing practical acts (for others of us it’s a lot easier). Still, the parable of the persistent widow demonstrates that God is persuaded to act when we petition him in prayer. So this week, let’s show some persistence for those who we long to see in relationship with God. Let’s not just talk, think or tweet about praying for our friends – let’s actually do it.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of praying for friends to know and experience the love of God; if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Thirty Four (20/8/2013)

20 Aug

I just moved house and, whenever I move or pack I discover one thing – I’m a hoarder. (Martin has already covered some of this in week fifteen). Me and my girlfriend went through mountains of clothes, many of which I haven’t worn or even remembered for years, and yet whenever she went to chuck anything away my response was the same – ‘Yeah, but what if…’

‘What if?’ I think this might be one of the more damaging statements we can define ourselves by.  When Jesus sent off the disciples to go and do stuff (technical theological term) he said, ‘Do not take a purse or bag or sandals.’

I imagine the response went something like -‘Woah, but Jesus…’ ‘Did you misunderstand that? DID I STUTTER?’ ‘No, but what if…?’

BOOM. There it is. What if…?

I’m beginning to realise that following Jesus is about letting go of our ‘what  ifs’ and embracing the risk-taking, terrifying, uncertain, world-changing life to the full that he offers. So here’s this week’s challenge…

34: Get rid of a safety net

Right, key youth work point – some safety nets are good. Others are not. Get rid of the ones that are holding you back. This is pretty vague but hopefully as you read this something is popping into your head. That will (hopefullly) be God. Job’s-a-good’un.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on getting rid of safety nets or risk taking, please read our writing guidelines, then drop Martin an email.

God 52 – Week Thirty Three (13/8/2013)

13 Aug

unplugThis week, many of my friends will be heading to an inevitably-soggy field in Shepton Mallet for the Soul Survivor youth festival. I’m not going this year (feel my pain), as my heavily-pregnant wife would not be blessed by six days of unassisted bath-times and bedtimes for our three other little smashers. So instead, I’m able to spend the week reflecting on what I’ve previously learned from attending what I’ve found to be a fantastic event.

Last year, I felt God speak to me during the sung worship at the event. I was really enjoying the experience – it’s hard not to when you’re surrounded by 10,000 enthusiastic teenagers, jumping up and down and shouting ‘whoa-oa-oa’ (surely the primal cry of the great psalmists). But what I felt God might be asking me was this: ‘it’s great that you enjoy worshipping me like this… but is this all worship is?’ It gave me pause as I considered that question. Do I just perform acts of worship, or do I live a life of worship?

The spiritual discipline of worship is about making a hundred different choices, every day, to honour and step closer to God, rather than making a movement in the opposite direction. Worship and sin are polar opposites, and as we navigate each day, we choose to point, in everything we do, toward one pole or the other. So this week’s challenge is about developing an awareness of our choices – to either worship God, or ignore and reject him, in the minute details of our day.

33: Worship God this week through the way you live, not just through singing

If you’re at the Soul Survivor festival this week, you might find this challenge particularly helpful – but wherever you are, see it as an opportunity to become more aware of your decisions, and how God might feel about them.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of worship – beyond singing; if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

Coining a phrase, by Lucy Mills

9 Aug

This week on God 52, we’re thinking about intentional friendship. In this guest post, writer Lucy Mills considers how true friendship can be measured…

lucy millsWe call it carpet snorting.

Which sounds weird, and perhaps a little dodgy. Is this some new drug?

No. When we say carpet, we mean carpet. That stuff people use to cover floors with, you know?

I suppose I’d better explain.

When I was studying for my degree, I made some very close friends. Friends who knew more about me than most. Friends with whom I snuffled with laughter and sniffled with tears.

And then there was the carpet snorter. Let’s call her Sarah, because that is her name.

Sarah and I did our fair bit of snuffling and sniffling. It was quite obvious from the beginning that this friendship would be marked by a lot of hilarity, as well as honest tears.  (We even bellow with laughter about the bad bits in life. It makes them slightly more manageable.)

We would laugh so hard it crippled us; other students would find us hanging from the railings on the college staircase, unable to continue our upward (or indeed downward) journey because laughter had stolen our ability to use our legs.

(Sarah was not the only friend with whom I collapsed under the weight of joy; there were others – dear Susan, with whom I was bundled down the fire escape, because our mirth was too big for one library. The memory still gets me a-snuffling.)

One day, Sarah and I were laughing. About what? Who knows. We laughed so hard we ended up lying on the floor. And then, through splutters, one of us said: “I just snorted carpet up my nose!”

I think it was Sarah, but it might have been me. In the moments of laughter we merged into one giggling entity.

But the phrase was coined, and thus it is how we measure a friendship.

“I’ve made a new friend, but I don’t know if she is carpet snorting material,” one tells the other.

“I really need to meet a carpet snorter,” says one, on moving into a new neighbourhood.

I’m moving in the autumn. New area, new church, new neighbours. I really hope there’s a carpet snorter there somewhere.  It will be a challenge in making new friends but also in maintaining old ones. I’ll need to work at keeping friendships alive.

Because even (or especially) carpet snorting friends aren’t made automatically; we need to invest, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. Both laughter and tears come from a place of vulnerability. Being ourselves, whatever the world thinks. Challenging one another to find shared joy where there was only individual sadness.

We call it carpet snorting.

Lucy Mills is a freelance writer and member of the Magnet editorial team – an ecumenical Christian resources magazine.  Her website and blog can be found at www.lucy-mills.com.  She tweets as @lucymills. Her big passion is the book she’s writing, called ‘Forgetful Heart’ – looking at what it means to remember God in our daily lives, and confessing she’s not very good at it.

God 52 – Week Thirty Two (6/8/2013)

6 Aug

laughter1(Warning, this first thought  sounds far more self-important and pompous than it actually is.) Sometimes the most spiritual acts are the most natural ones. Example – I spent a lot of time in the last week visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while, laughing with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, driving between friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

If we don’t acknowledge these relationships as being spiritual then we lose so much of what these relationships have to offer. We’re created as inherently relational beings, ones who crave love. Ones who want to be known, to be secure and, perhaps most crucially, to enjoy. And God is in the midst of that.

So this week’s challenge might be the most fun one yet.

32: Carve out some intentional time with good friends.

Sound easy? Good. Enjoy it.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of friendship – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.